There has been a lot of talk of “global warming” lately, and many people dismiss it out-of-hand when ever they hear that phrase. But for those living and studying in the North the rise in temperatures over the past 30 years has been obvious, and dramatic.
In Alaska, whole towns are moving (see CNN above) because the rock solid perma-frost they were founded on is melting, turning the ground to mush.
On the seaways, ice flows are breaking up 16 days earlier than they did 30 years ago… that’s a full 2 weeks. It has disrupted the habits of Polar Bears and other animals that rely on the sea ice to search for food and move from place to place.
And if you think this will only affect a few animals and some crazy hippies in the bush.. think again, this could have a major effect on Big Business. ie. The Oil, Gas, and Mining industries. Many of the companies operating in the north rely on permafrost to build roads and company towns. As the permafrost melts, new roads, requiring much more massive amounts of investment due to the “soupy” nature of the earth, will have to be built. This will of course have major environmental impacts.
Also, ice roads over frozen lakes are often used to transport goods and material throughout the north. If the ice in those lakes isn’t thick enough, or it doesn’t stay as long as usual, or it simply isn’t there.. then that could again spell trouble for industry.
This is a real problem that can and will affect all facets of society and the economy. Are humans responsible? It’s still hard to say.. but what is clear is that we’re definitely not helping.