Arctic sea ice is melting -- and at a rate that is alarming scientists. It should be alarming to all of us. Out of sight, out of mind? Not so. While we may live far from the scene of this meltdown, we need to pay attention and act.
Why does it matter? We count on the Arctic ice cap to help regulate our global climate. The ice reflects light and keeps the ocean -- and the earth -- from overheating. The Arctic thaw is causing rising ocean temperatures that contribute to global warming. Arctic temperatures, including Alaska, western Canada, and eastern Russia, have risen by 4-7 F degrees over the last half-century. This record rise in temperature in the Arctic region could lead to changes in climate patterns that will affect the entire planet. Scientists are also looking at the melting ice cap as a contributor to changing, extreme weather patterns.
"I understood firsthand the the deterioration of the arctic sea ice on my expeditions to the Arctic," said Sebastian Copeland, a Global Green board member and environmental activist. "The movement of the ice and accelerated melt have made impossible a return trip to and from the North Pole on foot, as was done up until fifteen years ago. On the Greenland ice sheet changes are so dramatic that they can be tangibly measured by expedition departure and return dates: the government no longer issues permits for summer travel on the interior since 2010 given the rate of surface melt."
Following this summer of extreme weather comes a new report released by the University of Colorado's National Snow and Ice Data Center that confirms the frightening trend of rapidly melting ice in the Arctic. Predictions indicate the ice cap will shrink to a new record-breaking low.
- Sea ice cover is 47% lower than it was 30 years ago
- Since 2007, sea ice cover has reported its lowest levels on record
- In August 2012, sea ice cover dropped to a new low: 4.1 million square kilometers, breaking 2007's lowest recorded level of 4.26 million square kilometers
Even more alarming: global warming is rapidly accelerating the melting of the ice shelves in Antarctica and Greenland.
Sadly, some of our nation's leaders think it's comical for us to fight rising seas. Well, sea level rise is no joke, and we can take action in a way that creates jobs and a greener economy.
I wrote a Huffington Post blog about sea level rise -- it received more than 150 comments from a range of environmentalists and skeptics. Why there are some that think there is still a debate is not just a mystery -- it's maddening. There is no question about the facts before us.
We need to act now, and you can help us.
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