[Marxism] Melting article ice releasing banned toxins
stuartmunckton at gmail.com
Tue Jul 26 23:27:46 MDT 2011
The warming of the Arctic <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/arctic> is
releasing a new wave of banned toxic chemicals that had been trapped in the
ice and cold water, scientists have discovered.
The researchers warn that the amount of the poisons stockpiled in the polar
region is unknown and their release could "undermine global efforts to
reduce environmental and human exposure to them."
The chemicals seeping out as temperatures rise include the pesticides DDT,
lindane and chlordane, made infamous in Rachel Carson's 1962 book Silent
Spring <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silent_Spring>, as well as the
industrial chemicals PCBs and the fungicide hexachlorobenzine (HCB). All of
these persistent organic
are banned under the 2004 Stockholm
Pops can cause cancers and birth
take a very long time to degrade, meaning they can be transported for long
distances and accumulate over time. Over past decades, the low temperatures
in the Arctic trapped volatile Pops in ice and cold water.
But scientists in Canada and Norway have now discovered that global warming
is freeing the Pops once again. They examined measurements of Pops in the
air between 1993 and 2009 at the Zeppelin research
Svalbaard and Alert weather station in northern Canada.
After allowing for the decline in global emissions of Pops, the team showed
that the toxic chemicals are being remobilised by rising temperatures and
the retreat of the sea ice, which exposes more water to the Sun. For
example, air concentrations of PCBs and HCBs have shown a rising trend from
about 2004 onwards. Their work is published in the journal Nature Climate
Hayley Hung, a member of the air quality research division of Environment
Canada and of the team, said its work provided the first evidence of the
remobilisation of Pops in the Arctic. "But this is the beginning of a
story," she told the Guardian. "The next step is to to find out how much is
in the Arctic, how much will leak out and how quickly."
Hung said that, with the exception of lindane, there was little existing
knowledge of the scale of the Pops stored in high latitude regions: "We
really don't know."
The fate of the frozen Pops depends on the speed of warming in the Arctic –
it is currently heating up much more quickly than lower latitudes – as well
as how the chemicals interact with snow and rain. Pops accumulate in fats
and are therefore concentrated up the food chain, but Hung cautions that
food chains themselves in the Arctic may be altered by climate
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