The Arctic Circle encompasses the northern most part of the world. It is surrounded by ocean and shared between 8 countries, with Russia and Norway having 2 of the biggest communities living within the area. Although it is only around 17 662 KM, this part of the world plays an exceptionally important role, not only as an ecological environment home to unique animals species and but also for the social role that it plays in the livelihood of those who live there.
The Arctic is the climate regulator that the planet depends on.
The Arctic Ocean is arguably the most important ocean on the planet, with its icy waters and colossal glaciers acting as climate regulators. However, over time, the Arctic has warmed causing a detrimental effect on the planet. Some of the effects of disappearing Arctic ice include the fact that the amount of the sun energy deflected back into space has been reduced, causing more fresh water to be released into the salty surrounding oceans. This, in turn, has contributed to a rise in sea levels. As the ice thaws, more greenhouse gases are released. There is also the problem with the rise in ocean temperatures due to the currents not been cooled off by the Arctic ice, a problem that will affect weather patterns.
According to the latest reports, the polar ice is melting a lot faster than anticipated. The environmental change that the region is currently undergoing is not only affecting the impact of climate change but will directly affect over 4 million lives in the arctic area.
The Arctic Resilience Report
Scientists have been warning people for many years about the impending climate change and the impact that a melted Arctic will have on the world. In the Arctic Resilience Report, the research showed that the change within the Arctic was happening far faster than anticipated and that this acceleration in the changes would result in a rapid change in the eco-system with a direct impact on the lives of those who live in the region.
“This ground-breaking report, based on direct evidence from case studies across the circumpolar Arctic, is an unprecedented effort to gain insight from what is happening on the ground in the region’s social-ecological systems,” Joel Clement, the Director of the Office of Policy Analysis at the U.S. Department of the Interior and co-chair of the Arctic Resilience Report Project Steering Committee said in a statement.
The impact of humans
The reason for the melting ice is without a doubt global warming. While the Earth has always experienced climate change to a degree, the onslaught this current climate change is unlike anything the Earth has experienced before, especially since the change is mostly man made. The acceleration of the climate change has caused the effects to be devastating and noticeable with the impact already being felt in our lifetime.
One of the biggest changes brought on by climate change, which will be felt sooner than all of the other changes, is going to be on the way of life for those in the Arctic region. People who live in the Arctic are known for their adaptability and their resilience when it comes to living in one of the toughest areas in the world, but it is questionable as to whether or not their way of life will be able to survive this level of climate change.
Reversing and slowing the effects of climate change will start with trying to undo or slow the damage that is happening in the Arctic circle.
Climate change is one of the biggest debates of our time, and as with all important debates, the opinions are split into two camps. One camp believes that climate change is a fallacy, something made up to induce fear, while the other camp is looking at the science behind the opinion and seeing the reality. Climate change is very real, and the evidence is undeniable. Renewable energy, used on a grand scale, is the only way to go, but we are not at the point just yet to move away from fossil fuels. And the longer we wait, the more damage we do.
What is climate change?
Climate change is the change in climate patterns on a regional or global scale and it is largely due to the increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
While the climate has been undergoing constant change throughout the existence of the planet, it is in the 20th century that the change has become more noticeable and more devastating than ever before. And because of the ongoing increase in the amount of fossil fuels being burned, the onslaught of climate change has attributed to the unceasing increase in global temperatures.
Global climate change has always been a part of the world’s global cycle, but why is it so dramatic now?
Unlike the other eras in which global climate change has occurred, this is the first time in human existence that climate change has been manmade. And so the rate at which the change is taking place is unlike anything we have seen before. This time, climate change is making a damaging impact. While we previously thought that the change would not happen in our lifetime, we are likely to be alive when the serious changes start becoming noticeable all around the world.
But scaremongering is not useful, education is. Scientists are telling us that there are already major signs of climate change and NASA has uncovered simple yet vital signs to prove that the change in climate is already having some scary effects.
The evidence of climate change that we cannot ignore
The rise in sea levels
A century is more than a lifetime for the majority of us, so the impact brought on by the rise in sea levels might not hit as hard, but in the last century alone the sea levels around the world have risen by more than 17 centimeters. This rise happened before the world started experiencing the sudden rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, not to mention that 17 centimeters are double the height that the sea rose in the previous century.
What does this mean for us? Consider how many countries have a coastline or are surrounded by the ocean. A rise in sea levels has already become noticeable in the USA where cities along the Florida coastline have had unexpected flooding whenever the tide comes in. These cities have had to install pump systems and lift roads to keep people safe. The Major of Miami, a city that has had this issue for a while, has had to raise the tax revenue in the city to implement a system which he says will only keep the water at bay for around 50 years.
It is the island nations that are forgotten and in the majority of cases, the island nations are those that have contributed the least to global warming.
A rise in global temperatures
As the name says, global warming is an increase in the temperatures around the world. Since 1880, although some politicians would argue otherwise, the earth has warmed. The warming began in the 1970’s, while the warmest years were in the 1980’s. But it is the last 12 years that we have seen the biggest impact in terms of global warming.
Surface temperatures continue to rise as more carbon dioxide is released into the air and more deforestation takes place.
The oceans are heating up
A lot of the heat that has impacted the globe has been absorbed by the oceans. As the oceans are responsible in many ways for the weather we have as well as being responsible for control of temperature. A rise in sea temperatures has an effect on the surface temperature. At least the top 700 meters of the oceans have already heat up, and this is just the beginning if we continue down this path.
The oceans have also become more acidic
A massive part of the human population relies on fish as a means to survive. But with the acidity of the oceans rising not only are the fish populations diminishing but so are the reefs that were once home to massive fish populations. The fish populations can’t recover fast enough and since one billion people depend on fish for their meals, what will happen when there is no longer enough? The oceans absorb a third of the carbon dioxide that is in the atmosphere, and this is killing the reefs and the fish, while other forms of pollution are also to blame. The oceans can no longer absorb enough of the carbon dioxide to keep things in balance.
Recently, The Great Barrier Reef became another victim of global warming as it was reported that huge swathes of the reef had died. With the oceans around the world absorbing 2 billion tons of carbon each year, can you imagine the habitat in the coming years? Will there even be a habitat for ocean life?
The Arctic ice is disappearing
By 2040, you will be able to sail across the Arctic Circle in the summer months. The Arctic is an important global temperature regulator, and because the ice itself is bright, and is responsible for reflecting up to 80% of the sunlight that hits it.
The Arctic is also responsible for influencing the ocean currents, and that is the all-important influence which will be felt worldwide. This influence helps in the creation of fresh water (when ocean water enters the arctic it freezes and the salt is expelled) and it is also responsible for cooling down warmer water, which in turn affects the temperature. This temperature regulation also plays a big role in reducing the severe weather systems that the world is experiencing. Have you seen the news in recent years, about super storms and such? Now imagine the world without the Artic, without a significant buffer against extreme weather?
Extreme Weather patterns
Global warming ties in closely with the recent spate of extreme weather that has hit the planet. Severe droughts, overwhelming flooding, super hurricanes, and other extreme weather events have not only recently devastated the USA, but have been experienced in just about every nation on the planet.
At the end of it, climate change is something that has and will continue to affect us all until our governments and politicians take the change seriously enough to take action. To cut back on the use of fossil fuels and taking the renewable energy route will be tough, but it is not impossible.
Science and technology can help us to save our planet before we reach the very real point of no return. And it is important that countries like the USA, China, and India, nations with big populations, and big energy needs, take the lead. The change will happen slowly, but only when we all start taking climate change seriously.
There is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to make great strides. We still have people among us who do not believe that climate change is real but they science is undeniable. And it is the ignorance and the misinformation that we can fight, that is one of the ways that you can help with climate change. Another way that you can help is by Going Green.
We only have one planet, and it is up to us to make sure that we leave behind a healthy planet that our children can explore and enjoy. A planet filled with interesting animals and astonishingly beautiful landscapes. But right now, that is a world that we will have to fight for.