Ice, ice baby... going, going, gone

The yellow rubber ducky in your bathtub can be more useful than you think. NASA scientists are using ducks like this to track the movement (read recession) of glaciers in Greenland and Canada. Duck out of water? Thumbing through some old articles, I've been pondering the fate of the world's glaciers (see this link for facts and figures). For those who think the future is too far away to worry about, watching the BBC Planet Earth series is highly recommended. One of the final episodes compares footage of polar bears hunting in the Arctic - one set was taken 20 years ago, the other goes back just a few years. In the first, the bears are shown rearing up on their hind legs, lunging down and breaking the ice to hunt seals under the surface. In the more recent episode, the fragile ice gives away under the bears' paws. The marooned bear swims several kilometres and finally lands amid a pod of walruses. Exhausted, the bear is unable to hunt. In a scuffle with the walruses, it suffers mortal injuries and quietly lies down to die - weary and hungry. Heartbreaking, yes. But don't miss the larger picture: The melting of Arctic ice is a reality we cannot ignore simply because most of us live too far away to experience the ill-effects of global warming. At the poles, where a mad scientist seems to be running amok in Nature's laboratory, the evidence of global warming is clear and the shocking effects more palpable than anywhere else on the planet. Warm day, huh? Image copyright: United Nations Environment Programme DEWA/GRID-Europe