Arctic Decapping

Some 300 scientists Monday warned of an accelerating melt-off of the Arctic polar cap and Greenland's ice sheet, pleading with nations to quickly reduce their emissions of heat-trapping gases.

In a four-year study, they found Arctic temperatures rising twice as fast as the rest of Earth, with a potential to disrupt ocean currents as well as to raise sea levels. The fast pace of Arctic warming adds to the urgency for the second Bush administration and the US Senate to rethink past US opposition to bold measures that would reduce the use of coal, oil, and natural gas. For starters, Congress must demand higher gas-mileage standards of automakers.

The US continues to reject the 1997 Kyoto treaty's method for reducing greenhouse gases, even though Russia joined the pact last week, making it binding on the industrialized nations that have signed onto it.

President Bush faces new pressure from British Prime Minister Tony Blair to join Kyoto or take similar steps, despite the economic hardships that it would bring. Even Mr. Blair felt the heat. Queen Elizabeth took the unusual step of urging him to act, and he plans to forge a new consensus for steps on global warming at next year's G-8 meeting.

Reversing global warming won't be easy or quick. It may take decades, and the final results of efforts to reduce human damage to the atmosphere still aren't known. Also nations such as China, India, and Brazil are excused from Kyoto. But the signals from the Arctic are a call for action.

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