Speaking at a meeting in Norway called “Melting Ice Regional Dramas, Global Wake-Up Call”, the former US vice president said there was a danger of permafrost melting. As complex as the climate-change challenge is now, Gore noted, “it would be twice as difficult if you waited until this thawed”. If the permafrost were to melt, he said, microorganisms would turn vast amounts of thawed organic matter into climate-damaging methane gas, doubling current greenhouse-gas levels.
Carbon dioxide and methane remain the greatest challenges, Gore said, but black carbon (or soot) from diesel engines and fires also presents a threat. Soot blackens snow and ice, trapping heat and accelerating the melt.
Arctic Council foreign ministers are meeting this week to discuss a range of regional issues, including the impacts of global warming. The council members are the United States, Russia, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway.
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