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Arctic natives seek global warming ruling
Updated: 2005-12-08 20:22

As ice caps shrink around them, Inuit activists are making an international case out of Washington's alleged indifference to global warming. But the Bush administration is standing by its refusal to negotiate long-term limits on "greenhouse gases."

Arctic natives seek global warming ruling
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew, left, United Nations Deputy-Secretary General Louise Frechette, second from left, Prime Minister Paul Martin, third from left, and Richard Kinley, Officer-in-Charge, UNFCCC listen to proceedings at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2005, in Montreal. [AP]

A two-week U.N. climate conference, attended by more than 180 nations, enters its final two days Thursday with little prospect for consensus on a key item — mandatory cutbacks beyond 2012 in carbon dioxide and other emissions whose buildup in the atmosphere is expected to disrupt the global climate.

The climate is already changing in the Arctic, where an international study last year found average winter temperatures have increased as much as 7 degrees over 50 years. Permafrost is thawing, and the extent of Arctic Sea ice is shrinking, imperiling polar bears and other animals.

The warming threatens "the destruction of the hunting and food-gathering culture of the Inuit in this century," said Paul Crowley of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, representing 155,000 Inuit of Canada, Greenland, Russia and the United States, where they are known as Eskimos.

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