Canada Announces More Arctic Oil Exploration as Huge Ice Sheet Falls into Sea; U.S. Presidential Race Sinks into Muck

The Associated Press is reporting that a large ice shelf almost the size of Manhattan plunged into the Arctic Ocean last month in yet another sign of warming global temperatures. The 19-square-mile Markham Ice Shelf is now adrift off Canada’s northern coast. Over the summer, the Arctic lost 82-square miles of ice cover, an area three times the size of Manhattan.

“The loss of these ice shelves means that rare ecosystems that depend on them are on the brink of extinction, said Warwick Vincent, director of Laval University’s Centre for Northern Studies and a researcher in the program ArcticNet.

“‘The Markham Ice Shelf had half the biomass for the entire Canadian Arctic Ice Shelf ecosystem as a habitat for cold, tolerant microbial life; algae that sit on top of the ice shelf and photosynthesis like plants would. Now that it’s disappeared, we’re looking at ecosystems on the verge of distinction,’ said Muller.”

Yikes! This can’t be good. Or can it?

It is, if you are Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The Conservative Harper, who faces Parliamentary elections in October, announced plans last week to explore the rapidly melting region for additional gas, mineral and oil deposits. This will provide Canada and the world with more fossil fuels to burn, which will then warm the planet further, destroy fragile Arctic habitats, and expose more oil to burn.

A perfect plan, really. Until Greenland and the Antarctic begin to melt down, flooding Canada’s coastlines and inundating trillions of dollars worth of real estate worldwide. Which would presumable put parts of the Atlantic Provinces underwater. That might not be so good down the road.

Well, Stephen, you’d have my vote….if I could vote for you. But, as an American, I’m stuck voting in the U.S. Presidential election a few weeks later. As you no doubt know, the U.S. Presidential race seems to have taken a similar plunge off a cliff.

Having spent the last year questioning the experience and qualifications of Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the Republicans have chosen inexperienced Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be a heartbeat away if septuagenarian would-be president John McCain were to suddenly keel over in office at any time during the next four to eight years.

The Republicans have responded the only way one can in such situation: by shooting the messenger. They have savagely attacked anyone who dared question Palin’s selection as their vice presidential running mate.

It seem to have worked. The Republican faithful appear united. And the Associate Press that the very media organizations the Republicans have savaged are now falling all over each other to praise the Alaskan governor’s convention speech, in which she attacked the “Washington insiders” (i.e., media types and Democratic types) who are attempting to keep the Republicans from maintaining control of the world’s most powerful office.

“‘It wasn’t just a home run, said CNN’s Wolf Blitzer; it may have been a grand slam. ‘A very auspicious debut,’ said NBC’s Tom Brokaw. ‘It was a ‘perfect populist pitch,’ said CBS’ Jeff Greenfield. ‘Terrific,’ said Mort Kondracke on Fox News Channel.

‘A star is born,’ said Chris Wallace on Fox.

‘A star is born,’ Blitzer said.

‘A star is born,’ said Anderson Cooper on CNN.”

One can understand Kondracke and Wallace; Palin could have thrown excrement at them and they would have praised her for coming up with a new fertilizer. But, c’mon….the rest of you do realize that she was attacking you for doing your job? Do you not? You defended yourselves, right? And you did point out that Palin is doing her scrappy outsider impression while serving as an understudy to a 72-year-old Vietnam veteran who has been in Congress for 26 years?

No? OMG!

Beyond that, the convention may be an indication that the entire Fall campaign is sinking into the muck of suddenly thawed permafrost. The election should be about the many challenges we’re facing as a country and a planet. Like $4,500-year-old ice sheets collapsing. But that’s looking increasingly unlikely now.