- Nearly half the ice covering the Arctic has melted, warns
an authoritative report to be published in May. An alarming disappearance
of ice is occurring at both poles and from glaciers worldwide as global
warming proceeds, and in decades there could be none left at all on the
- The report, from the Worldwatch Institute, in Washington,
describes how entire ice shelves have already disintegrated in the Antarctic
and how a fifth of the glaciers in the eastern Himalayas have vanished.
- "Earth's ice cover is melting at an astonishing
rate," it says. The melting had "accelerated rapidly" over
the past decade as more and more polluting "greenhouse gases"
contaminated the atmosphere, increasing global warming and preparing the
way for raisedsea levels and more flooding.
- Last week, the Government announced a radical programme
to cut Britain's emissions of the gases to a level that goes beyond what
is legally required, in an attempt to breathe new life into faltering international
negotiations over combating climate change.
- John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, warned ofmore
disasters, like the recent floods in Mozambique, as global warming increases.
The Worldwatch report says that every two years an area the size of Denmark
vanishes from the ice sheet that covers the Arctic Ocean around the North
- Meanwhile, the remaining ice has lost nearly half its
thickness. The overall volume of the ice has shrunk by 40 per cent over
the past 30 years, and it could all be gone "in a matter of decades".
Three Antarctic ice sheets have "fully disintegrated" and two
more are "expected to break up soon".
- The World Glacier Monitoring Service has also reported
"extreme" losses of ice from the world's mountains over the
past few years.
- SIGHTINGS HOMEPAGE
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