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Arctic Melting Rapidly: Action Needed Now

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The Arctic sea ice is melting at a phenomenal rate and the London-based Arctic Methane Emergency Group (AMEG) is calling for governments to put two and two together, and pull out all stops to save the Arctic sea ice or humankind will face starvation in the ensuing years ahead.

This week, the White House will hear evidence from Australian scientist, Carlos Duarte, that the Arctic sea ice is on such a downward spiral that we may see a dramatic decline of sea ice over the next two years. Evidence was given to the UK government last year from British scientists, Peter Wadhams and John Nissen, that we could see minimal sea ice by September 2015, simply extrapolating the sea ice volume trend. Evidence from recent satellite images suggests that a record melt is in progress this year. The plight of the Arctic was highlighted to British MPs and the Met Office in a recent showing of the film "Chasing Ice" at the House of Commons, London. The Arctic has recently become an issue in the European Parliament.

Research from US scientist, Dr Jennifer Francis, suggests that the retreat of sea ice is causing a disruption of jet stream behavior, producing weather extremes. Evidence was given to the UK government last year that the weather extremes being experienced in the UK and elsewhere could be due to this disruption of weather systems as the Arctic warms relative to the tropics. This evidence was reported by Robin McKie in the Observer, on 7th April in an article entitled: "Why our turbulent weather is getting harder to predict". The weather extremes from last year are causing real problems for farmers, not only in the UK, but in US and many grain-producing countries. World food production can be expected to decline, with mass starvation inevitable. AMEG predicts that the price of food will rise inexorably, producing global unrest and making food security even more of a heightened issue.

Putting these two strands of evidence together, it is obvious that we face an ever worsening food crisis unless something dramatic is done straightaway to cool the Arctic and save the Arctic sea ice. This sounds impossible, but can be done. AMEG believes the best chance of success in cooling the Arctic quickly involves cloud cooling techniques, such as being developed by engineers Stephen Salter in the UK and Aaron Franklin in New Zealand. Salter's technique could be deployed almost immediately.

Chair of AMEG John Nissen says "scientists acknowledge that the Arctic sea ice is a key component of the Earth's temperature and climate control system. I fear that civilisation may not survive the abrupt climate change and other catastrophes which will be unleashed by late-summer disappearance of Arctic sea ice, likely within two or three years, so it is imperative that rapid action is taken to cool the Arctic sufficiently to prevent this disappearance - no doubt the most vital engineering challenge ever faced by mankind."

Clearly the time for action is now.

Earth Dr Reese Halter is a broadcaster, conservation biologist and author of The Insatiable Bark Beetle.

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