Tuesday, September 25, 2012
I was reading an article in the NYT this morning about the rapid and record setting pace of the Arctic ice caps. These massive floating pieces of ice act as a cooling element to the earth's climate, and their absence will undoubtably have a major effect on future generations. Like many features of Earth's cyclical climate, the ice caps recede and refreeze with the season. What's significant about the receding trends of 2012 is that they have broken all records of melting, meaning that unlike years past, these caps will be unable to regain their ice mass. Many scientists predict that the ice caps may be completely ice free by the year 2020, more conservative estimates say the middle of the century. Just to reiterate that point, experts are predicting that the arctic ice caps might be completely ice free within the next 50 years...
The obvious loss of ecosystems and natural beauty notwithstanding, the permanent absence of these caps will likely set off major climatic warming trends. Here's why. Over the past billion-or-so years, plant life and fossiles have been encapsulated under these sheets of ice, along with any gases they might be holding onto. With the melting of this permafrost, trapped gasses will undoubtably be released into the atmosphere and lead to CO2 levels in the atmosphere surpassing their already alarmingly high PPM levels. And, if you buy into this whole anthroprogenic global warming business, you know that that isn't a good thing.
It is difficult to imagine the sheer mass of these melting ice caps, but with their melting comes the result of sea level rising. Remember the days when Al Gore was predicting the eventual rise of sea levels resulting from global warming, well that prediction or problem isn't going away. That ice needs to go somewhere, and the ocean is the most likely depository.
So, the question remains, why hasn't any serious reform or regulation been enacted to combat these climate shifts? Simply put, because not everyone believes these shifts are taking place. If we cannot agree on the science behind greenhouse gas emissions trapping heat, why would we be compelled to lower our emission of those gasses?
The evidence is becoming more and more clear that our environment is feeling the effects of global warming. It is unfortunate to think that the evidence might only be compelling enough for some people, once the effects are too severe for reparation. It is even more unfortunate to think theses environmental effects are, at present, too severe for restoration.