Fossil fuel corporations are making the arctic melt and endangering all life on earth
Despite what climate deniers funded by Exxon or the Koch brothers keep repeating, global warming is happening, and it's having disastrous impacts in the polar areas. This will mean a total disruption of the wildlife and the destruction of the traditional lifestyles followed by many communities. But the effects will also hit other areas of the world. We are already feeling the climate change caused by the jet stream disruption and the climate catastrophes are going to happen more and more. What's more, the shrinking of ice caps could lead to apocalyptic methane release.
- 1 Frightfully high temperatures in the arctic are destroying the icecap
- 2 The carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere hasn't been this high in 15 million years
- 3 Destruction of environment and traditional life in polar areas
- 4 Climate disruption has already begun
- 5 The ultimate threat of sea floor methane release
Frightfully high temperatures in the arctic are destroying the icecap[edit | edit source]
Something is terribly wrong when Norwegian icebreakers sail out in the middle of winter and find no ice to break less than 800 miles from the North pole. However this is becoming more and more commonplace as high temperatures are destroying the Arctic icecap and shrinking the Arctic sea ice extent. January was a case in point, with an average temperature 13.5 degrees Fahrenheit above usual levels. Even more shocking, the temperatures remained well above the norm for the whole month, ranging from 7 to 23 degrees higher than they should be. Basically, the January of 2016 temperatures were as high as they usually go in April.
This has one terrible result, the shrinking of the ice extent. And reports are showing that the ice extent is hitting record-breaking low again. For instance, in Yukon the temperature has been rising at double the rate of the planet. This has caused the glacial cover to decrease by 22%. As we will see, the consequences of the meltdown of the Arctic icecap could very well be apocalyptic. But first let's take a look of the one thing responsible for this disaster, the greenhouse gas that fossil fuel corporations keep pumping into the atmosphere in their never-ending thirst for profit.
The carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere hasn't been this high in 15 million years[edit | edit source]
Despite what Exxon and the Koch brothers pay the Cato Institute and other denier groups to say, the effects of human activity of the environment are undeniable. Greenhouse gas are accumulating in the atmosphere and causing a greenhouse effect that is speeding up global warming. Recent reports attest that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere hasn't been this high in the last 15 million years.
The last time the atmosphere was this full of carbon dioxide, the temperature was 2 to 3 degrees Celsius above the levels of 1880 but more importantly the seas levels were 80 feet higher ! Of course when one considers that the Koch brothers are deeply involved in supporting the Tea Party movement and that many among the Tea Party don't believe the world's creation reaches back more than a couple thousand years one almost expects them to fight all kinds of scientific works. But millions of dollars of misinformation spending can't erase the fact that 2015 is the hottest year ever recorded and that 2016 is well on its way to being even hotter !
Destruction of environment and traditional life in polar areas[edit | edit source]
In the polar areas, climate change is very real. It's so real that it has already begun to destroy the wildlife and the way of life of the people that have lived there for ages. A study has shown that in the Antarctic, global warming had already killed 150,000 penguins and is on the verge of wiping out all of them. This is due to the warming waters of the sea which are causing more and more icebergs to appear. And they are making it harder and harder for the penguins to feed in the sea. Another study revealed that the shrinking ice is taking its toll on the polar bear population of Alaska. And the Alaskans are having a hard time too.
Native communities in the State are struggling to maintain traditional ways like the summer bearded seal hunt. This summer the hunt ended after only a week instead of the usual three, because there was no ice and the seals had already migrated to other areas. This is the shortest hunt in the history of these communities and many are worried that the old ways may be disappearing as swiftly as the receding ice. But the ecosystems and communities of the polar areas are not the only ones to be threatened by global warming. The consequences of the destruction of the Arctic icecap will be calamitous for everybody.
Climate disruption has already begun[edit | edit source]
The first global threat that already has started to be triggered by the Arctic meltdown is climate disruption. Dr. Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute of California indicates that “what is happening in the Arctic now is unprecedented and possibly catastrophic”. The warming of the Arctic has already begun to disturb the weather systems of the Northern hemispheres. Peter Gleick explains that the unusual weathers episodes of the year 2015 are directly linked to this phenomenon : “Changes in ice extent and volume may all be reflected in weather patterns in mid-latitudes. In 2015, a phenomenon called the polar vortex and unusual patterns of jet stream flow brought record-breaking hot and cold weather to different parts of the US (…), Massive storms, sometimes called ‘bomb cyclones’, are created when warm air from the Atlantic and cold air from the Arctic combine.
Just this season, massive flooding associated with one of these storms struck the United Kingdom producing record rainfall.” And it's not going to stop. This highlights the fact that climate disruption is already causing natural disaster that cost billions of dollars and put thousands of people at risk. That should be enough for everybody to agree that it's time to bring an end to it. However, Big Oil is still clinging on to its profits and doing everything it can to stall policies climate change. And if Peter Gleick is right about his other Arctic related fear, these delays could make us set off the bomb that will kill us all.
The ultimate threat of sea floor methane release[edit | edit source]
The second global threat related to the Arctic is that the disappearing of the icecap will probably set off massive methane release that would make us spiral into utter destruction. According to Peter Gleick : “as the water of the Arctic Ocean keeps getting warmer, the danger increases that heat will reach the seafloor where it can trigger release of huge amounts of methane (CH4), in an additional feedback loop that will make warming in the Arctic accelerate and escalate into runaway warming”. Indeed this would launch a vicious circle with no escape. The released methane would increase global warming and contribute to releasing even more gas. And Peter Gleick warns us that we are on the threshold of this life-ending disaster : “The scary conclusion is that the East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS) alone holds up to 1700 gigaton of methane in the form of methane hydrates and free gas [in shallow water-gulp!] contained in sediments, of which 50 gigaton is ready for abrupt release at any time. The warning signs keep getting stronger.”
50 gigaton of methane is about 10 times more than the amount that is in the atmosphere today, and methane is the most potent of the greenhouse gases, with a global warming effect 100 times stronger within the first five years it is emitted. What does this have to do with the Arctic ? Today the Arctic icecap is our shield against this hazard. Sunlight hits the North Pole and is reflected back into space. But the day the ice disappears, the sunlight will make it to the Ocean depths and methane release is bound to happen. Peter Wadhams, professor of Ocean Physics at Cambridge University was asked if, in his opinion, mankind can survive this 50 gigaton release. His answer was chilling : “No, I don’t think it can.”
This must be stopped. Global warming must be halted before this sword of Damocles falls upon us all. And the obese fossil fuel companies like ExxonMobil must be brought to justice for the danger they have put on in and the stubborn irresponsibility they maintain in spite of this collective threat.