What does this mean and what should we be doing about it? Depends on where you live. If you live near one of the "extremes" i.e. near an extremely arid and hot place or an extremely cold place, effects will be greatest. If you live in a temperate environment (middle latitudes) then the effects might be more subtle. The science is complicated, yes. But the fact is that if we had really wanted to do something about this, we should have started decades ago. This is confirmed by over 120 scientists from 11 countries. Fact, not fiction. You can read more about this, for example, from the Canadian Arctic Shelf Exchange Study.
If you would like an idea of what the model forecasts for your area are, let me know. In the meantime, there is a significant amount of attention on the Arctic. The scientific community is startled by how fast polar ice is melting. An area about the size of Lake Superior is melting every year, and has been for the past thirty. The Canadian Press reported today that the Inuit are being greatly affected. Houses are being washed away, shorelines are eroding, and food sources are threatened. Did you hear about this in the news today? Of course not, the Inuit don't hold a lot of power politically. And globally, we are consumed with wars, cartoons gone awry and bird hunting idiots. Our attention is diverted. We are giving our kids baths, and making lunches, doing the laundry, going to work, and generally living our lives. We are the generation that the future will look back on and say: "What the hell were they doing? Thanks for screwing up the planet." How many generations do we look back on and think "how foolish they were...if only they knew then what we knew now." The problem with this analogy is that we do know. Now. But we choose to ignore because life is good. We drive big cars, we consume Consume CONSUME...Enough.
This is what we must do: pressure our governments to make this a priority. Work towards the Kyoto obligations and individually, do everything we possibly can to conserve energy, drive efficient compact cars (better yet, walk, ride a bike or take public transit) and generally be conscious of what kind of ecological footprint we are having on this planet. Really folks, not to be too preachy, but I would like future generations to live in the wonderful natural environment that we currently are fortunate to have. We need to change our ways. Seriously. Now.