17 January 2009

The changing face of Australia

Weather-wise, Australia has been seeing something of a wet period recently. Normal to above-normal rains have been observed across much of the country over the past several months, with November being particularly wet. There's ongoing flooding in NW Queensland, and the normally dry Lake Eyre may partially fill this year. The NT's Red Centre has turned green. Further, the Bureau of Meteorology's annual climate summary indicates that 2008 was 'only' the 14th warmest year on record. Does this spell the end of climate change in Australia? Is K-Rudd doing the right thing by setting such a pathetic target for reduction of CO2 emissions in this country?

This is most likely courtesy of the return of quasi-La Nina conditions in the Pacific, after a brief return to neutral Pacific conditions. A strong La Nina affected the weather during late-2007 and early-2008. Historically, La Nina often mean wet periods in Oz, and overall cooler global temperatures as well. This latter point applies to Australia as well.

Globally, the cooler weather has caused most of the contrarians to downplay the reality of climate change. Hopes and wishes are all well and good, but the power of positive thinking won't change this reality; Anthropogenic climate change is not gone, either in Australia or the rest of the world. What we are experiencing is just weather and interannual climate variability -- by definition short-term. The La Nina likely won't make it much past the end of austral summer, and El Nino will be around again soon enough, when we'll likely see new record high mean temperatures, both in Australia and around the globe. This is not the end of anthropogenic climate change.

Regardless of whether one accepts the reality of the above facts or not, the Great CO2 Enhancement Experiment (~40% and rising) we are running on the planet is dangerous -- full of unintended consequences and unforeseen peril. Warming of the mean global climate is serious, but only one of many of our worries. CO2 presents other dangers as well. Below are a few early results from experiment noted of late in Australia and its territories.

  • Recent analysis of the long term patterns of coral growth on the Great Barrier Reef are telling. A 400 year record of banding like tree rings on the giant Porites coral reveals a massive decline in the growth history. Since 1990, a decline in the growth rate has been observed. Previously, the record would undulate, now the decline is consistent. Should current trends continue, the growth rate will be zero by 2050. Ocean acidification as much has rising temperatures are believed to be the culprit.

  • In Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory, a 40 year study has revealed an increases in woody vegetation on the savanna and in the floodplains of the park. Intially, the increase was hypothesized to be a result of feral buffalo (an invasive species). However, this relationship has proven to be weak as after 1985, the buffalo were nearly eliminated from the park while the vegetation structure continued to change. Instead, the researcher speculate that he change may be related to an increased level of atmospheric CO2, increasing rainfall and changing fire regimes during the study period.

  • Heard Island, a sub-Antarctic island some 4000 km southwest of Western Australia is showing a rapidly changing landscape. A portion of the land has split from the mainland, effectively forming a new island. This is a result of changing sea level, possibly from rising temperatures (a 1oC increase over past 50 years, and it's not an urban heat island!) or from other factors like strong ocean swells and winds. Further, a glacier on the island has likely retreated further and anecdotally, the lagoons at the glaciers terminus have increased in size. Analysis and monitoring are underway.

None of the Earth's 'spheres' remains untouched by Our Way of Life. Climate change and other environmental degradation affects the whole population of the Earth and every nation on its face. Australia's self image as the Lucky Country will not spare it any damage, as the above examples attest. Even without a temperature change, the Experiment has detrimental results -- ocean acidification or enhanced plant growth are but two. The effects run deep and climate change is just the obvious manifestation. And there are may well be surprises we haven;t even considered yet to come.

So yes, it is short-sided for Australia to set such a pathetic emissions reduction target. It's time to stop listening to the neoliberal economists; they are clueless and morally bankrupt. Let's lead instead of being led like sheep following the shepherds of greed. Unchecked, the whole experiment – CO2 enhancement, rampant consumerism, overpopulation -- will catch up to everyone in the end. If we act soon, we have a chance to break the bonds and begin a new way of living. If and when the inevitable crash comes, the considerations which are driving this decision now will be meaningless. The businesses will be gone and the economy will be toast. The world is not ours to exploit to the point of exhaustion. We have a moral obligation --to our fellow denizens of biosphere (human or otherwise), both now and into the future -- to leave the world in the state we inherited it. They are our legacy and our immortality, the standards by which we will be judged.

Image: Bureau of Meteorology

16 December 2008

Climate change and South America: New beginnings in an old story

Like the rest of the world, South America (SA) is experiencing considerable environmental degradation. This is both a cause of and because of climate change; a result of human greed and apathy toward the natural world – a self-destructive social paradigm . Historically, SA has not been a significant factor in driving climate change (although currently Latin America as a whole is responsible for 12% of the annual global greenhouse gas emissions). That said, this does not mean the continent has escaped the some of the more deleterious effects of human environmental meddling.

Throughout South America (also Mexico), glaciers are in retreat (see these earlier posts). This tendency is particularly pronounced in the southern portion of the continent, Patagonia. In Chile, glaciers in the region have receded up to 580 meters due to reduced rainfall and rising temperatures in the region over the last century. Earlier this year, glaciers in Argentina were observed to break up in the winter for the first time. However, two glaciers have proven to be exceptions to the larger trend – one in Argentina and one in Chile are currently expanding.

The danger presented from the melting glaciers is not merely cosmetic. Rather, the receding glaciers represent a threat to the fresh water supply for both the local populace and agriculture. No glaciers means no fresh water, a dire situation. Still, local governments follow the same path. Recently in Argentina, a carefully crafted law meant to protect this resource was rejected in favor of business development and 'progress'. In Chile, near-future plans to address climate change are widely seen as insufficient.

One of the major sources of GHG emissions in SA (and globally) is deforestation. In an earlier post, some of the issues and attitudes regarding towards the Amazon rain forest were examined with the hope that Brazil would exercise the moral choice of conserving the rain forest for the long-term benefit of all. The actions of the Brazilian government tell one story; the annual tally of forest loss tells another.

The Brazilian government is making an attempt at conservation. A show of force with a crackdown on illegal loggers and a pledge to reduce the rate of deforestation by half in the next decade are some high-profile actions taken recently. Unfortunately, the annual amount of forest cleared has risen for the first time in three years. This is being driven by farmers and cattle ranchers clearing forest in response to capitalize on high commodity prices around the world.

Deforestation is not confined solely to Brazil, but rather endemic throughout the region. And while the effects on the global climate are significant, the local and regional impacts can also be large. For example

  • In Colombia, deforestation is behaving synergistically with an unusual rainy season, exacerbating flooding along with avalanches and landslides -- 50 people have been killed, 85 injured, nine are missing and 735,000 have been left homeless. A local meteorologist notes “Human beings are the problem...Cutting down trees in the river basins means that the rains are not contained, but sweep down rapidly into streams and rivers, which rise and overflow.”

  • In Paraguay, one of the last uncontacted indigenous tribes is being threatened as their forest homeland is reduced to cattle pasture. More tragically, the lands are protected under some native title legislation; the national government isn't (can't or won't?) enforcing the law.

Like the rest of the world,a common theme in SA appears to be the inability of many of the continent's governments to affect meaningful measures to halt the slide of environmental degradation, opting instead for the illusory panacea of short term economic growth. That said, many nations on the continent are experimenting with new forms of governance. Ecuador's new constitution states: "Nature or Pachamama, where life is reproduced and exists, has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution." That is, it grants explicit rights to Nature. Early next year, Bolivia is likely to enact a new constitution that empowers the long-suffering indigenous people of that nation.

There is no guarantee of success, though -- significant hurdles remain to be overcome. More trials of this sort are needed to develop a new zeitgeist, a different way of living for the 21st century. The current paradigm of the global North has run its course; an apparent dead end of financial insolvency, endless warfare and destruction of the natural world. The world should learn from and improve upon these experiments. We may well be witnessing the beginnings of a 'New American Century', but this time led from the South and based on the principles of social justice and environmental sustainability.

Image: Wikipedia

27 November 2008

More fish tales

As humanity's impact on the environment continues becomes increasingly apparent, more measures are being made to stem the tide of the over-exploitation of the world's fisheries.

The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) passed a "total allowable catch" limit of 22,000 tons of bluefin for 2009. This number is down from the 29 500 tons allowed in 2008, but well in excess of the 15 000 tons recommended by ICCAT's own scientists. This is the legal allowable catch; illegal fishing will likely drive the total number of fish caught much higher. Environmental groups call the measure a disgrace.

The agreement also includes stricter measures aimed at limiting illegal tuna catches, defines mechanisms for control throughout the marketing chain and closes many outstanding loopholes. The EU apparently played hardball politics to get the higher than recommended quotas passed, threatening to penalize developing nations present at the meeting should they not agree to the higher limits. It seems to me that more and/or stricter laws are unlikely to staunch the flow; the EU has simply chosen to make sure that the national interests of its member nations are met. They're getting theirs while the getting is good, while paying lip service to the idea of sustainable fishing.

The last great US fishery is also looking at a reduced quota next season. Fisheries scientists recommended that next year's catch in the eastern Bering Sea, the main walleye pollack-fishing region for US boats, be cut by 18% to 815,000 tonnes. This continues a series of cuts in recent years that have seen the quota drop from almost 1,500,000 tons in 2005. Many argue that further reductions are needed with a quota to a quota around 500,000 tons in order to give the walleye pollack a chance to recover from years of overfishing. Pollock stocks have declined 20 percent per year since 2003, dipping to their lowest level since the late 1970s.

Will these cuts work? Such limits have been imposed before, with mixed results. In Scotland, stocks of herring and mackerel are on the verge of being (re)declared sustainable, following several years of cooperative conservation efforts. This is being hailed a success by local fishermen. Despite this, the season is limited to about 8 weeks a year to ensure conservation efforts are maintained.

However, the results on the other side of the Atlantic are not as positive. Atlantic cod is a symbol of boom-and-bust commercial fishing. After 50 years of heavy harvesting in the late 20th century, the Canadian cod fishery collapsed in the early 1990s. Total bans ensued, and fisheries managers expected to see a recovery. However, after 15 years of little to no fishing, local populations show no sign of rebounding. In fact, some will continue to spiral downward to extinction.

The main problem is that adult cod have been dying at an unusually high rate in recent years. No one knows why, but one cause might be increased predation by seals. The problem may be more widespread: The neighboring Scotian Shelf cod population also took a nosedive in the 1990s. While most other cod populations off Canada appear to be stable, the same could have been said about the southern Gulf population up until a few years ago.

It is not clear what the final outcome of these quota cuts will be. The ecology involved is complex and not fully known. And human actions further complicate matters. Over-fishing is but one of the many environmental disasters caused by human irresponsibility. We have a deleterious effect on the entire globe -- the short-sidedness of Our Way of Life. Strong economic incentives to curb our excesses are needed, while we discover new ways of living and co-existing with the ecosystem at large. A part of the natural world, not apart from it.

Image: Der Spiegel

25 November 2008

A sad tale: Antarctic whaling

As austral summer approaches and the 'high season' of the Antarctic opens up, Australia and Japan are gearing up for another round in the Great Game 2.0, the quest to control Antarctica and the potential resources it represents if and when the Antarctic Treaty breaks down.

The lead ship of the Japanese whaling fleet, the Nisshin Maru, has set out on its annual 'scientific whaling' expedition. The ship left from Innoshima in western Japan with little fanfare. A Greenpeace spokesperson said, “Constant pressure on Japan's whaling industry...has reduced the fleet to sneaking out of port in a fog of crisis and scandal, desperate to avoid attention”.

Last year, diplomatic tensions rose between Australia and Japan, a result of confrontations between anti-whaling activists Sea Shepherd and the whalers. Protesters launched stink-bombs and boarded the Japanese ships without permission and were held captive for several hours. Ultimately, the whalers returned home with only around half the numbers of whales killed for their 'study' than had been planned.

This year, it is anticipated that Japan will have a quota of 850 minke and 50 fin whales. The Australian government is unlikely to send an official vessel to monitor the activity. Also, Greenpeace has decided not to send an anti-whaling ship this year amid expectations Japan may send a coastguard ship with the fleet to ward off activists. (Wouldn't this be technically illegal under the Treaty, which prohibits militarization of the continent?). Sea Shepherd again plans to disrupt the hunt, hoping to send two ships this season.

Earlier this year, Japan's scientific body in charge of the whaling endeavor published a paper claiming a 'key finding' from the research:

The new study analysed measurements taken from 4,689 adult whales killed by the Japanese whaling fleet between 1988 and 2005. It found that blubber thickness and overall fat weight had decreased by 9% over the period, which it called a 'substantial decline". Girth of the animals was down 4%. The study says: "This is the first time a long-term decline in energy storage in minke whales has been demonstrated."...

...[T]he decline in blubber was down to shrinking numbers of Antarctic krill, a shrimp-like crustacean at the heart of the food chain. The amount of blubber lost is roughly equivalent to 36 fewer days of intensive summer feeding.

Krill numbers in the water around the rapidly-warming Antarctic peninsula have collapsed by about 80% since the 1970s. This is blamed on the loss of sea ice, which provide shelter and food for krill.

The study says the impact of global warming on the minke whales is unclear because no similar krill measurements have been made in that region of the Southern Ocean. But it claims that competition for krill from other predators such as the humpback must also be "considered as a likely explanation".

Some criticisms:

  • They then claim that the Antarctic minke whales that they did the study on must be competing with other whales, like humpback whales that are increasing in numbers, for a limited amount of krill. We think the science behind showing those trends is very weak at best and the explanation they put forward is extremely simplistic.

  • Lots of dead bodies will provide robust data, so if you kill lots of whales then you will be able to get some information. The question is whether the benefits outweigh the number of whales killed and how they were killed. Scientific whaling is not about science, and there is no pressing conservation need that requires it to be done. (Link same as before)

I tend to agree with the critics. There is a lot of pointless slaughter for not a lot of benefit; a relatively minor finding with a fairly speculative conclusion*. And this is apparently one of the few (the first?) peer-reviewed article to appear describing the results of this 20-year experiment. Scientific whaling is obviously a sham, a cheap facade, a cynical ploy to evade the international moratorium on commercial whaling.

While there is no doubt that many in Australia care deeply about the whales, I still maintain that the Australian Government has an ulterior motive, namely reinforcing its claim to Antarctica by re-affirming its moral claim in the area. This season, rather than risk a potentially violent confrontation, Australia is sending a scientific expedition to prove it was not necessary to kill the ocean mammals to study them. Let the 'pirates of compassion' directly confront the whalers, while the government pursues legal avenues. Plus, if there is no official presence there is no pressure to stop the activists.

And make no mistake, the Treaty is failing. Already suggestions are being made to end the Treaty, under the guise of environmental protection. While the environment is feeling the effects of humanity, mainly through overfishing , allowing national claims opens the door for further exploitation to the continent. It's already happening in the rapidly degrading Arctic, it will happen down South given the slightest chance, despite good intentions and promises to the contrary. Something should be done to protect the Antarctic, I doubt this is it...

Another version of the tragedy of the commons is revealing itself and Australia is making some clever moves in the early rounds of this Great Game. Whales make a good cover story and it's popular domestic politics. Realpolitik says the game must be played, failure to do so automatically results in a loss. Unless the rules change, this is The Way the World Works.

Protecting the whales is the right thing to do, as well. Taking out the upper links of the oceanic food web will have unknown consequences on the ecosystem at-large. Further, some species of whales share brain structures that make us human, indicating the possibility of consciousness and high-level emotional functioning. Bluntly put, killing whales may be murder. Whaling in the Antarctic (or anywhere) is an ethical atrocity and should be stopped immediately (and permanently). Humans have done enough to the world around us. Let's evolve in our own thinking and draw the line here.

*Question: How do we know this isn't the result of consistently killing the biggest and best whales for the 20 years for scientific whaling, leaving only the less fit? An example of evolution in action? Or do the Japanese cull whales indiscriminately, killing whatever they see regardless of age, size or maturity?

Image: Reuters.
Also: The book Harpoon: Into the Heart of Whaling is a enjoyable read on the history of whaling.

14 November 2008

Teaching ourselves to fish

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he'll eat forever. Or so the old aphorism goes. But is it true given the current state of the evidence?

In Europe, the crisis is becoming dire as deep cuts to the numbers of fish extracted from the ocean are being proposed. For 2009,the following measures have been proposed:

  • No fishing at all west of Scotland for cod, haddock and whiting west of Scotland;

  • A 25% cut in herring catches in the North Sea and west of Scotland;

  • A continued a ban on anchovy fishing in the Bay of Biscay;

  • A new ban on fishing for spurdog and porbeagle, two species of deep-sea shark.

Ironically enough, these cuts come after a poorly thought out 11% increase in the numbers of cod taken agreed to last year...Bluefin tuna in the Atlantic are also threat of becoming depleted.

Sharks are also under extreme duress, with a quarter of sharks and rays threatened with being fished out of existence in the Northeast Atlantic. Critically endangered sharks in include the gulper shark, prized in the cosmetics industry for its liver oil, and the two sharks most valued in Europe for their meat -- the spiny dogfish and porbeagle sharks.

The shark's path to extinction isn't confined solely to Europe. Rising affluence in Asia is stoking demand for shark fin, widely viewed as a delicacy when shredded in soup. Much of this is supported by illegal fishing activity, with 'hotspots' found off Central and South America as well as in the western and central Pacific. Tragically, most of this catch is a complete and utter waste, because in many cases crews on illegal vessels slice the fins off sharks and dump the less valuable carcasses overboard.

Even the fish that aren't merely tossed overboard aren't particularly utilized in an efficient fashion. Nearly one third of 'forage fish' –anchovies, sardines and the like -- are ground-up into meal and fed to pigs, poultry, and even farm-raised fish. Domestic pigs and poultry are such gluttons for seafood that together they consume six times the amount of fish eaten in the United States and double the amount in Japan. These fish provide food for seabirds, marine mammals and larger fish; their removal may be putting the entire oceanic food web at risk.

Aquaculture -- fish-farming -- is apparently no better, particularly in the ocean. While perhaps feasible at a small-scale and as part of a larger process with multiple uses of water, a group is claiming that ocean salmon farming is devastating the world's oceans.

Three or more kilogrammes of wild fish is needed to produce one kilo of farmed salmon. The ocean bottoms under and around the open-ocean net pens are usually devoid of any life, buried under the excrement of up to a million salmon overhead...

Other impacts of the farms, including rampant disease and salmon as invasive species, are described in the linked article.

Overfishing (and its disruption to the biosphere) is but one of the many consequences of humanity's reckless exploitation of the natural environment. The ongoing Great CO2 Enhancement Experiment is also having strong impacts: Increasingly rapid ocean acidification; ecosystem changes driven by the unusual(?) melting of the Arctic ice caps, Indian ocean circulation oddities wrought by both natural variability and climate change. Humanity takes from the natural world, contributing little (if anything) back.

Because the oceans are owned by everyone and no one, a classic 'tragedy of the commons' scenario arises. All take, few give back. Laissez-faire rules the day. Some toothless attempts are made to curb the excess: agreements, quotas, licenses and such are easy to write and impose. We have heaps of them now regarding fisheries. Unfortunately, only those law-abiding souls with a conscience are bound by them; the dominant economic and social paradigms dictate that such people are losers, in both the literal and pejorative sense*. The oceans are too big to effectively police; people can and will (and indeed do) take what they want when they want it. Given the performance to date, this strategy is unlikely to succeed.

The parable cited above is remains true. Metaphorically speaking, Gaia has just been giving us fish; the earth is finite, unlike our seemingly insatiable demands. Humanity has not learned to fish yet, because we have failed to heed the lessons. The most straightforward path, as twisty as it may be, is to make the cost of extracting resources (like fish) prohibitively expensive when done at unsustainable levels. Given that money is about the only thing(s) that gets anyone's attention, the changes must be economic. Proper valuation of environmental considerations must be made in the general economy. This pretty much requires a change in the value system (of the global North in particular, but everyone really) lives by. Consumption must once again come to refer primarily to tuberculosis, not Our Way of Life.

It is late in the piece, and dramatic changes to the planetary ecosystem could be 'locked in'. Or not, we don't know for sure. The risks are large and we should act as best we can. It is time to listen to the lessons being taught and learn to fish.

*Summarizing the paradigm, not a personal viewpoint...
Image: Spiny dogfish shark found dead in a net. From
The Guardian.

29 October 2008

Climate change: The reality of now in Victoria

The Great CO2 Enhancement Experiment (~40% and rising!) continues unabated, and looks set to continue for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, the results are coming in, and the verdict doesn't look good. Numerous lines of evidence from around the globe (as presented previously at planet doom?) support the idea that this is the case.

A recent jaunt across country Victoria prompted some reflection on the effects of climate change closer to home. Much of Australia, the southeastern corner in particular, is experiencing a long-term drought. In Melbourne, the drought is of 'unprecedented severity' – annual rainfall has been below average for 12 consecutive years. And the drought continues, with record-low monthly rain in September, and very little rain thus far in October.

Drought is a regular climatic event in this part of Australia, often corresponding with ENSO – El Nino years are dry, while La Nina years typically bring relief. Unfortunately, the recent La Nina brought little precipitation to the region. This may in part be related to the unprecedented events observed in the Indian Ocean; a third consecutive positive Indian Ocean Dipole (and apart from El Nino two years in a row, too). Historically, the positive IOD does show a negative relation with rainfall over this part of the continent.

The impacts of the drought are widespread, with concerns continuing to grow over the availability of water resources. The Murray-Darling river system -- southeastern Australia's lifeline – is a particular concern. For a third year running, very little water has been made available for irrigation along the river (also reported last year), with zero allocation in some parts. Nearly 90% of the wetlands in the MD Basin have disappeared. These effects are being exacerbated by human mis-management, with individual states acting on an ad-hoc basis.

Similar impacts are seen throughout Victoria. For much of the state, streamflows in the rivers are currently running below 10% of capacity. In total, water storage across the state is at 22% of capacity. Melbourne, a city of over 3m people, is slightly better off with storage levels at 34%. Water restrictions are in place..

Another consequence of the drought is the threat of wildfire becomes larger. In the current environment, the forested areas of Victoria are a particular are of concern for the upcoming summer. The water catchment areas of Melbourne are a concern; a major bushfire is these regions could increase the difficulty of maintaining an adequate water supply for the future.

The current drought is unprecedented in Australia's recorded history (over 100 years). This is climate change, part of the growing climate instabilities being observed around the globe. An enhancement (a corruption!) of the natural variability. The hysteresis in the Earth system means the effects, from causes long past, are only now becoming apparent. And the causes (i.e. CO2 radiative forcing) continue today, meaning that these events and their impacts are but a foretaste of our future.

Australia and Victoria are among the first -- by no means the last -- to confront the new realities of climate change. Adaptation will be a long, difficult process. Water – vital to human life -- is but one issue among many. Understanding how climate and the hydrologic cycle interact is crucial for the future. As Australian federal and state governments try to manage the current water crisis, the globe will be watching to learn from both our mistakes and successes. Adaptation is an unknown challenge and recent events provide an opportunity to lead the world towards a brighter, greener future.

In both a local and global sense, the time to act is now. Inaction is not an option. Society must adapt to the immediate realities and simultaneously try to minimize future impacts, through both emissions reductions and the development of a less environmentally intense lifestyle. We owe a moral obligation to future generations to accomplish this, a Green New Deal for the 21st century.

Images: 1. Low water levels in Thomson Dam via The Age
2. A nice gum tree in Lake Eildon NP, by me

10 October 2008

Arctic summer blues

Of all the evidence implicating Man's deleterious impact on the climate of the Earth, few (if any) are more unequivocal than the goings-on in the farthest reaches of the North Hemisphere, the Arctic. As the boreal summer of 2008 fades, even a brief survey of the region reveals the extent of the damage and the depth of humankind's folly...

While some degree of benefit may be felt by a few segments of society in these regions (see also the Iceland video linked above...), the consequences of climate change are dire for most—both locally and globally. Polar bears are becoming increasingly endangered, as their primary habitat disappears during the summer. Some may shrug their shoulders and say 'So what?', but they fail to realize the danger. The impact of a damaged segment of the Earth system isn't necessarily localized, but rather cascades through the different interlocking 'spheres'. For example, the loss of aquatic sea otters in Alaska has effects on the terrestrial eco-system.

The final result of this ecological damage to the Arctic is ultimately unpredictable, and quite likely to be global. But it most likely won't be positive. But the prospects of the radical changes to our world needed to avert this slow-motion catastrophe don't appear to be forthcoming. Nothing will be done until it is too late. We could save the planet if we wanted, but we're too damn cheap!*

And all this gives me the blues. The Arctic Summer Blues to be exact. Imagine the music of your favorite 12-bar blues rock song ('Red House' by Jimi Hendrix is a good one...) and sing along:

The polar ice is melting...

and its getting more stormy too!

The glaciers are retreating...

as the permafrost turns to goo!

There's only one thing to do for sure...

Stop emitting CO2!!

Image: Science Daily. Muir glacier: August 1941, August 1950 and August 2004.

*This sentence paraphrased from 'Hocus Pocus' by Kurt Vonnegut.