If all the ice across the earth is melting, how will our children, and our children’s children, understand what an iceberg is, or study the historic landscape of Greenland, the Arctic, and other glacial regions?
Our planet is such that with time comes natural change, but we’re accelerating the process and damaging the natural way of the world. The burden of blame falls on global warming, mainly caused by carbon dioxide emissions, created through human activity like burning fossil fuels such as coal or oil.
We’re destroying our own planet, slowly but surely, degree by degree.
Joe Reidel, park geologist for the North Cascades National Park in Washington state believes that the earth’s climate might be reaching a tipping point from which there may be no recovery — partially because there’s more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now than at any time in the past 20 million years.
Glaciers are affected by two climactic conditions: snowfall, which adds to their mass during winter, and high temperatures, which spur melting in summer.
This summer, temperatures in the North were 2.5 C above normal; and the ice cap that floats on the polar ocean is 14 per cent smaller than 30 years ago.
Scientists predict that by 2050, the Arctic will be ice free during the summertime.
The glaciers in Washington state aren’t the only ones retreating. From the Arctic to Peru and from Greenland and Europe to East Africa, there are reports that glaciers are shrinking.
“There is no question glaciers are a dramatic indicator of climate,” Reidel said.
“Ice defines the Arctic,” as Peter Gorrie so eloquently stated in his recent article in the Toronto Star. Walruses and seals give birth on it, and polar bears, which cannot kill in water, need the ice as a platform from which they hunt those seals.
It’s a simple millennia-old food chain: microscopic algae lives on the underside of the ice; as the ice melts, the algae goes into the water, feeding the crustaceans. Walruses and fish live on mussels and other crustaceans; birds and seals eat the fish; and polar bears eat the seals.
By overheating the Arctic, we are creating a detrimental domino effect. Some species of Arctic wildlife will become extinct, thereby cancelling out or forever altering those which fed on them.
The complete ecosystem of the Arctic will change — and not for the better.
The Inuit will lose much of their food source, and their culture, since they’re hunters and depend on the ice. Sea levels will rise dramatically. In fact, if all of Greenland’s ice melts, the world’s oceans would rise 7 metres. That, in itself, would cause major coastal changes. And, as water absorbs the sun’s heat faster than ice, global warming will speed up even more, wreaking havoc with our already unpredictable weather.
We need to be aware, we need to listen to the experts, and we need to make the necessary lifestyle changes to save our environment.