How low can you go?......before its too late

Photo by adavies |

We’ve all seen the image. The image of that hungry polar bear standing on that tiny piece of ice, floating away………far away.  We suddenly feel a bit upset, I mean of course it stirs up some kind of emotion to see animals without food, floating toward a dismal fate.  But how long do those feelings really last?  Well I’m pretty sure that we can hardly locate them after ‘The Office’ comes back on.  

Why should we care? It’s happening too far away from us, we don’t even know the little bugger, and that’s why we have Greenpeace right? Well, before you decide, consider this:

In 2002, history was made when NASA’s Aqua satellite was launched and the world finally caught a glimpse of Arctic sea ice levels.  Now, nearly eight years later, it was announced that the amount of sea ice covering the Arctic is lower than ever before. It has hit is trough, its dip. 

On September 8th 2011, the Arctic sea hit a record low of 4.24 million square kilometers.  Although to the untrained eye, this value may seem like an extremely thick layer that extends beyond anything we can adequately comprehend, in comparison to the previous record set on September 16, 2007, it should definitely raise some concern.

Although some may argue that the melting and building of sea ice is part of the natural workings of the earth, we should be concerned about the speed and rate at which it’s occurring (its retreated 50 percent since 1972!).

In fact, it has been stated that the record could “even be undercut in the next weeks” as the ice continues to melt.  Researchers even believe that the new record is likely the lowest Arctic sea ice coverage since the last climate optimum 8000 years ago.   

Obviously, this doesn’t mean that we may have to swim to work, but we should definitely think about what’s going on.  Why? Well, this change is more hazardous in the Arctic because the melting of reflective white ice leads to dark water that absorbs more heat from the bright star above.  It also means that habitats maybe diminished, not only for Polar bears and Eskimos, but also for Canadians, Americans, Europeans, Africans, Asians, Australians…………you name it.   

Because Polar Regions are important regulators of the global environment, their impacts include several aspects of earth’s functions (global air, ocean currents, greenhouse gas sequestration, global temperatures, water salinity, global sea level).   Thus, changes will affect everyone –from wheat farmers in Alberta to tribesmen in Africa.  And the scary part is that we don’t quite know how devastating it will be!

So what can we do? I would suggest that we read up on these issues, stay aware, and knowledgeable about what’s going on in our own backyards.  Obviously, we can’t completely remedy this problem, but maybe we can push for policies that help to lessen the effects. Maybe the solution requires alternative energy sources. Maybe we can come up with a brand new solution. Maybe you hold the key.       


Sujane Kandasamy