Glaciers melt 'at fastest rate in past 5,000 years'  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

The Guardian (and others) report on our rapidly disappearing glaciers.

The world's glaciers are melting faster than at any time since records began, threatening catastrophe for hundreds of millions of people and their eco-systems.

The details are revealed in the latest report from the World Glacier Monitoring Service and will add to growing alarm about the rise in sea levels and increased instances of flooding, avalanches and drought.

Based on historical records and other evidence, the rate at which the glaciers are melting is also thought to be faster that at any time in the past 5,000 years, said Professor Wilfried Haeberli, director of the monitoring service. 'There's no absolute proof, but nevertheless the evidence is strong: this is really extraordinary.'

Experts have been monitoring 30 glaciers around the world for nearly three decades and the most recent figures, for 2006, show the biggest ever 'net loss' of ice. Achim Steiner, head of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), told The Observer that melting glaciers were now the 'loudest and clearest' warning signal of global warming.

The problem could lead to failing infrastructure, mass migration and even conflict. 'We're talking about something that happens in your and my lifespan. We're not talking about something hypothetical, we're talking about something dramatic in its consequences,' he said

Lester Brown, of the influential US-based Earth Policy Institute, said the problem would have global ramifications, as farmers in China and India struggled to irrigate their crops.

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