What If The Arctic Melted And Nobody Cared?
The Melting Arctic Is a Real-Time Horror Story — Why Doesn’t Anyone Care? This summer’s epic wildfires and other extreme weather events have a root cause
Jeff Goodell, August 29, 2018 (Rolling Stone)
Editor’s note: Below is the gist of an important and superbly readable piece. Click through and read the whole thing.
"Last week, scientists learned that 40-foot piles of compacted sea ice — some of the oldest and most durable clusters in the Arctic — are breaking away from the coast of Greenland and drifting out to sea…[I]t was hardly unexpected. As the earth’s climate heats up, the idea of a ‘blue Arctic’ — that is, the disappearance of sea ice for at least part of the year, leaving only open ocean — has long been predicted by climate scientists…Some researchers believe that you might be able to kayak to the North Pole [by 2030 or 2040]…The thawing of the Arctic is one of the biggest stories of our time, even if it is playing out at a pace and in a way that virtually guarantees most people will pay little or no attention to it…
…[This is not] simply a tragedy for polar bears; the warming Arctic is already having a tremendous impact on our world and may help explain much of the extreme weather this summer, especially in the U.S. and in western Europe. To oversimplify this only slightly, you could argue that this summer’s historic wildfires in California were predicted by heat in the Arctic…[There is growing evidence that the dynamics of weather itself are changing…[T]he jet stream, a] band of high winds around the Northern Hemisphere that significantly influences our weather in the mid-latitudes…has actually slowed down significantly in recent decades…More extreme weather is not the only immediate and alarming consequence of a melting Arctic. Another is the thawing of permafrost…[Conservative estimates find the permafrost could] release around 120 gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere by 2100, which would contribute another .3 degrees Celsius of warming…In our rapidly changing world, no place is too distant or too far away to matter. Like it or not, we are all in this together. When ice melts in the Arctic, the west burns.” click here for more