This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Is There Really Global Warming? Do Glaciers Melt?

One of the clearest and most obvious signs of global warming is the rather startling melting of glaciers all over the globe. And it turns out that you don't need anything as sophisticated even as a yard stick to prove this. Rather, the proof lies in the uncovering of mysteries--missing airplanes and people, for example--as the ice layers melt. A story by Simon Romero from Bolivia in today's New York Times summarizes some of the evidence:

...on Huayna Potosí’s glacier [climbers last November found] crumpled fuselage, decades-old pieces of wings and propellers, and, in November, the frozen body of Rafael Benjamín Pabón, a 27-year-old pilot whose Douglas DC-6 crashed into the mountain’s north face in 1990.
“When I found the pilot, he was still strapped into his seat, crunched over like he was sleeping, some black hair falling from his skull,” said Eulalio González, 49, the climber who carried Mr. Pabón’s mummified body down the mountain. “There are more ice mummies in the peaks above us,” he said. “Melting glaciers will bring them to us.”
The discovery of Mr. Pabón’s partially preserved remains was one of a growing number of finds pulled from the world’s glaciers and snow fields in recent years as warmer temperatures cause the ice and snow to melt, exposing their long-held secrets. The bodies that have emerged were mummified naturally, with extreme cold and dry air performing the work that resins and oils did for ancient Egyptians and other cultures.
Up and down the spine of the Andes, long plagued by airplane crashes and climbing mishaps, the discoveries are helping to solve decades-old mysteries.
María Victoria Monsalve, a pathologist at the University of British Columbia who studies ice mummies said some of the most valuable discoveries in recent years include three Inca child mummies found on the summit of Mount Llullaillaco in northern Argentina and a 550-year-old iceman discovered by sheep hunters in northern British Columbia.
So, even if you are a person who isn't sure that humans are the single biggest contributors to global warming, the fact of global warming is virtually indisputable, and we are going to have to cope with that--if not now, then in the not too distant future.

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