Walking on Thin Arctic Ice

Filed in Gather News Channel by on August 31, 2012 0 Comments

Scientists started monitoring the Arctic area via satellite in 1979 to gauge the stability of the region. In August 2012, researchers reported that half of the Arctic ice mass has disappeared, and it only gets worse from there. The Arctic is now losing 100 square kilometers a day of ice mass. To put this in perspective, one square kilometer equals 247 acres.

To formulate ice in the Arctic region requires seawater to freeze. The freezing process for seawater is vastly different from freshwater. Seawater is considerably denser than freshwater. When seawater freezes, the newly formed ice is so heavy that it falls away and sinks to the bottom of the ocean. This means that Arctic surfaces form from the bottom of the ocean, upwards. Whereas, freshwater freezes from the top, downwards. In contrast to the South Pole of Antarctica where ice formations start on land and spread outwards, the Arctic region is strictly comprised of ice.

As the ice in the Arctic continues to melt, more of the sun’s rays penetrate the surface. This heats up the exposed ice and makes the water temperature warmer. The warmer the water becomes the more quickly young seawater ice formations melt and never adhere to the ice mass. This creates an aggressive cyclical warming reaction that compounds on itself.

The major component causing this dangerous chain of events is the unnatural emission of greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide. Research scientist Julienne Stroeve pointed out that when greenhouse gases are removed from Arctic climate change simulations the North Pole shows no decrease in size. Since 1979, humans have contributed 60 percent of the pollutants necessary to bring about global warming. As a result, inside 33 years, the consumption of fossil fuels has shrunk the Arctic to half its size, which has led to record-breaking high temperatures and drought during the Earth’s orbital cool cycle. Effectively, in the blink of an eye, humans have assaulted the only known viable planet for the species’ continued existence.

A majority of people seem to have a default proclivity to wait until the worst happens before attempting to correct a situation. As far as planetary warming is concerned, people are now facing the tipping point for survival, as Arctic ice melt is spinning out of control. How can any person look into the eyes of a newborn and not have dread wash over them?

No longer is the superheating of the planet an unaccountable issue to leave for distraught future generations to sort out. The immediate and productive way for Americans to change the environmental condition is through responsible voting in the coming political election, November 6, 2012. Avoid voting for politicians whose first order of business is to approve projects for toxic industries, like Tar Sands pipeline construction and oil drilling in the Arctic. Further, be wary of politicians who want to see the Pebble Mining project in Bristol Bay come to fruition. This mine plans to have the largest tailing ponds on the planet, filled with superheated toxic waste, and is slated for construction in a region that regularly experiences earthquakes. Irrespective of a full breach, there is no such thing as a leak-free tailing pond, which means that sulfuric acid 1,000 times stronger than battery acid, mixed with lethal levels of cyanide, will leak into Arctic waterways.

This election, each citizen needs to take a stand and put the needs of the planet over personal wants. For a dead planet is a dead planet and no amount of money changes that reality. After all, the goal of American families is to protect each other from harm.

“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.” – Thomas Edison

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