Al Gore to attend “Melting Ice: Regional Dramas, Global Wake-Up Call”
Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, foreign ministers and climate change scientists will meet on 28 April in the town of Tromsø in Northern Norway to discuss the impacts of melting ice in the Arctic and mountain areas worldwide. The conference is by invitation only.
Mr Gore and Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre will make a statement on the topic addressing the need for policy responses at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen later this year.
The conference, titled Melting Ice: Regional Dramas, Global Wake-Up Call, will take place the day before the Arctic Council’s annual ministerial meeting. A number of foreign ministers from the Arctic Council states and several observer states are expected to attend. The Arctic Council states are the United States, Russia, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway. The event will be co-hosted by Mr Gore and Mr Støre.
The Arctic is already being affected by climate change, with temperatures rising twice as fast as the global average. A changing Arctic in turn affects the global climate. Polar sea ice in the Arctic reflects much of the incoming solar energy. As the ice melts, this energy is absorbed by the ocean, leading to more warming with global effects. Large-scale melting of the Greenland ice sheet would lead to a rise in sea levels, threatening coastal and low-lying areas around the world.
The situation in the Arctic can be seen as a warning to the rest of the world. Climate change scientists say that over the next few decades, 1.3 billion people will be threatened by more serious flooding, followed by the loss of drinking water, as their rivers swell and then dry up. Many of the world’s main rivers depend on meltwater from the mountains for part of the year.
Scientists predict that ice and snow in the mountains that feed these rivers will melt away because of global warming. Rivers flowing from the Himalayas, the Andes Mountains, the Rocky Mountains and the Alps will be affected. In Asia, the Himalayas are the source of seven of the continent’s largest rivers. These and other rivers from the mountains of Central Asia are vital to the livelihoods of 40% of the world’s population.