Climate change continues to present a challenge. The argument over its reality continues, but the converts continue to outnumber the sceptics. And the world economic situation gives the realists one more reason for caution.
But the alarming data continues to mount. Among the latest news is the retreat of the Arctic ice, with the mimimum summer area in 2007 the lowest ever recorded (see graph). While some say that we've been there before, researchers say this is not just a cyclic fluctuation. Rather, the loss of ice reduces the reflection of solar heat, increasing the heat retained, and hastening the rise in local sea temperatures, thus creating a vicious circle. The future may well be worse than the graph suggests.
Scientists are predicting that the arctic may be ice-free in summer in less than a decade, which will have enormous environmental consequences and will threaten many arctic species. As you'd expect, there are business interests that oppose doing very much about the problem; in fact some fear that human interference in the area can only increase as the ice reduces.