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Global warming is remap-ping the world: UN findings focus on meltdown at poles

Global warming is remap-ping the world
UN findings focus on meltdown at poles
By VIVIAN SONG -- Sun Media

Global warming is remap-ping the world at a chilling pace, melting glaciers and permafrost and endangering hundreds of millions of lives, warns the latest UN report released yesterday on the eve of World Environment Day.

The report's findings coincide with this year's theme highlighting the world's poles as the first telltale signs of climate change: Melting Ice: Hot Topic?

"The fate of the world's snowy and icy places as a result of climate change should be cause for concern in every ministry, boardroom and living room across the world," said Achim Steiner, head of UN Environment Program of Global Outlook for Ice and Snow, written by 70 experts.

Retreating glaciers from the Himalayan mountains and the Alps, and melting permafrost are expected to threaten about 40% of the world's 6.5 billion population, experts warn.

Meanwhile, a one-metre rise in sea levels could expose 145 million people to flooding and cost $950 billion in damage.

Given the latest alarm bells, it's a strange way for the UN to present the theme, punctuating it with a self-effacing question mark.

Were David Hik to rewrite the theme, surely he would have been more assertive, especially since Arctic melting should be of special concern to Canadians, said the executive director of Canada's International Polar Year network, an unprecedented polar expedition.

"Arctic sovereignty has been complicated by rapid warming," Hik said.

Scientists predict the passageway could become navigable in the summer as early as 2020.

Arctic ice has been melting at a rate of 8% per decade over the past 40 years -- roughly an area the size of Lake Superior every year, he added.

"There's still time to prepare but Canada needs to make decisions on infrastructure investment and the type of support for Northern communities."

Last month, the three territorial premiers released a joint report, A Stronger North and Better Canada.

"Canada's sovereignty over the Arctic region can only be asserted by building prosperous and sustainable communities in the North," it reads.

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