National Geographic cover: The Big Thaw

Once again National Geographic Magazine has managed to knock my socks off, this time with its June ’07 issue. Vanishing Sea Ice is journalist and photographer Paul Nicklen’s touching homage to the Arctic and its wildlife through the lens of his camera: a decade-long documentary of its accelerating demise. Big Thaw, meanwhile, zooms out to the global level to tell how ice around the world is fast receding. Global warming-induced meltage is a familiar story by now, but new studies are showing that — due to multiple positive feedback effects — the decline is occurring more rapidly than scientists had anticipated. Which, as the article discusses, brings sea level rise and habitat loss to the visible horizon.

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A point which I personally hadn’t considered is the widespread fallout of mountain glacier melting:

And the millions of people in countries like Bolivia, Peru, and India who now depend on meltwater from mountain glaciers for irrigation, drinking, and hydropower could be left high and dry.

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Beyond giving me one more thing to worry about, NG does an exquisite job, as always, of telling the story graphically, and with images that won’t soon slip away.