Published on Sunday, July 26, 2009 by The Guardian/UK
Revealed: The Secret Evidence of Global Warming Bush Tried to Hide
spy satellites declassified by the Obama White House provide the first graphic images of how the polar ice sheets are retreating in the summer. The effects on the world's weather, environments and wildlife could be devastating US
Graphic images that reveal the devastating impact of global warming in the Arctic have been released by the
Satellite images of polar ice sheets taken in July 2006 and July 2007 showing the retreating ice during the summer. (Photograph: Public Domain) To see larger image: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jul/26/climate-change-obama-administration#zoomed-picture
The pictures, kept secret by
One particularly striking set of images - selected from the 1,000 photographs released - includes views of the Alaskan
The photographs demonstrate starkly how global warming is changing the
Nor has this loss shown any sign of recovery. Ice cover for 2008 was almost as bad as for 2007, and this year levels look equally sparse.
"These are one-meter resolution images, which give you a big picture of the summertime Arctic," said Thorsten Markus of NASA's
Disappearing summer sea ice poses considerable dangers, scientists have warned. Ice shelves are used by animals such as polar bears as platforms for hunting seals and other sea creatures. Without them, they could starve. In addition, ice reflects solar radiation. Without that process, the Arctic sea could warm up even more. The phenomenon threatens to set off runaway heating of the planet, say climatologists.
The latest revelations have triggered warnings from scientists that they no longer have the funds to keep a comprehensive track of climate change. Last week the head of the US's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Professor Jane Lubchenco, warned that the gathering of satellite data - crucial to predicting future climate changes - was now at "great risk" because America's aging satellite fleet was not being replaced.
"Our primary focus is maintaining the continuity of climate observations, and those are at great risk right now because we don't have the resources to have satellites at the ready and taking the kinds of information that we need," said Lubchenco, who was appointed by Obama. "We are playing catch-up."
Even before her warning, scientists were saying that America, the world's scientific superpower, was virtually blinding itself to climate change by cutting funds to the environmental satellite programs run by the Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA. A report by the
In February, a NASA satellite carrying instruments to produce the first map of the Earth's carbon emissions crashed near
The satellite would have measured carbon emissions at 100,000 points around the planet every day, providing a wealth of data compared to the 100 or so fixed towers currently in operation in a land-based network.
The NOAA is under additional pressure to provide environmental data because of the re-emergence of the El Niño climate phenomenon, where warming of the tropical Pacific causes heatwaves, droughts and flooding around the world. June's land and sea surface temperatures were the second hottest on record, and scientists are predicting this will be the warmest decade in recorded history. The last major El Niño was in 1998, the hottest year in recorded history.
The Obama administration  has already taken steps to tackle
© 2009 Guardian News and Media Limited
Donations can be sent to the
"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs