On the horizon

Arctic melt

A thaw of the Arctic ice cap is accelerating because of global warming, but nations in the region, including the United States, are deadlocked about how to stop it.

Due for publication next week, an eight-nation report compiled by 250 scientists says the Arctic is warming almost twice as fast as the rest of the planet due to a buildup of heat-trapping gases and the trend is set to continue.

The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment report says emissions of gases from cars, factories, and power plants are mostly to blame.

The Arctic ice cap has shrunk by 15 to 20 percent in the past 30 years. The contraction is likely to accelerate, scientists warn, and the Arctic Ocean could be almost ice-free in summer by the end of the century.

Diplomats said governments in nations around the Arctic rim - the US, Russia, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland - disagree about what to do, with the US most opposed to any drastic action.

More Endangered species

The world's list of endangered species is growing at an unprecedented rate as governments pay less attention to green issues, according to a major global environmental group. The World Conservation Union plans to release a "red list" of more than 12,000 threatened species at the World Conservation Congress in Thailand, which starts Nov. 17.

Up to 30 percent of the world's species face extinction in the next 50 years, the group said. It also plans to release a report on what it says is shrinking government investment in conservation.

Up to 3,500 environmentalists, scientists, businessmen, and government officials are expected to attend the week-long conference, which is being billed as the largest conservation meeting ever.

Drilling planned for Colorado

The US government expects to release a draft management plan next week that will detail its plan for natural-gas drilling in an environmentally sensitive area in western Colorado known as the Roan Plateau. The Bush administration has marked the Rocky Mountains as an area where it wants to see more oil and gas development to lessen domestic reliance on imported energy, but environmental groups have been fighting the plans in a number of Western states.

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