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I guess I have a thing with ice.  I put it in my water, I slip on it constantly during Wisconsin winters, but most importantly, I don’t want it to melt, at least not when it shouldn’t.  I talked about this the other day with those creepy maps showing what landmasses could go underwater if the Antarctic or Greenland ice melts like it’s supposed to due to climate change.

Greenland ice melt

I'm not sure if I'd like to go rafting on this melting ice sheet in Greenland...

As if that weren’t enough to keep you up at night, there’s more trouble up North now, too.  This article in the Huffington Post will tell you all about the rapid changes going on in the Arctic circle.  Here are some key points:

  • The Northwest passage’s 2007 opening unleashed unanticipated currents into the oceans, sending warm water coursing around the globe.
  • Major ice melts in Greenland, dumping water into the oceans.
  • Greenland’s melting causes the glaciers to essentially play massive slip’n’slide games with each other, resulting in ice quakes that register from three to five on the Richter scale.  More and more ice quakes are reported each year.
  • Ice quakes have their own fun consequences: they take pressure off the earth’s crust, causing shifts in tectonic plates and earthquakes, possibly worldwide.

Basically, this sucks.  We’ve got global environmental disasters, rising ocean levels, and loss of native wildlife in affected areas.

But the article brings up a good point: these changes might produce even more climate refugees, or people forced out of their homelands due to climate change.

Carteret Island

Massive flooding on the Carteret Islands is causing evacuation and relocation of its citizens. The islands are expected to be uninhabitable by 2015.

I think it’s easy for us to ignore or remain apathetic about others affected by climate change.  It’s not us, and we have a tendency to care about the issues directly impacting us at the current moment.  Take a look at this poll, which says that Americans are least concerned about the environment as they have been in the past twenty years.

Of course, as soon as it affects our citizens, we’ll be all over climate change and the environment.

So even if your concerns are purely selfish; even if you don’t give a crap what happens to people of other countries or animals or flora; even if you think this is all a massive hoax; please know that you cannot remain unaffected in your own little bubble for very long.  The climate refugees might move in next door.  The price of gas might rise tremendously.  You might have to cancel that trip to Florida when the state goes under.  An earthquake might shake up your town.

There’s an easier way, of course, if you can find a way to think about the environment and the rest of your worries all at the same time.  Just an idea.

The ice is a-melting – check this out if you don’t believe me.  And I’m not talking about an iceberg here or there.  Think Antarctica.  Or all of Greenland’s ice (which is a mass almost three times the size of Texas).

Right now, Antarctica is losing about 139 billion tons of ice per year.  The ice melts and goes into the ocean, in turn raising sea levels.  Most experts believe sea levels would rise around 20 feet if all of Greenland’s ice melted.  If all of the Eastern Antarctic Ice Sheet melted, sea levels would increase by around 180 feet.  Still think this might not be a big deal?  Check out these projections:

Sea Level Rise

Bye bye Manhatten!

Sea Level Florida 170 ft increase

I hope nobody was too attached to Florida...

Now, I am aware that many people don’t believe that global warming is a problem.  They say that the earth has gone through such temperature fluctuations for countless years.  They say that various trends are normal.

Guess what?  They’re right.  The earth does go through periods of warming and cooling naturally.  But here’s the catch: the planet is heating up way too fast, and it’s because of what we’re doing.  We are releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere (like carbon dioxide and methane) and they’re getting stuck there through the greenhouse effect.

What about Bob

Just remember: baby steps!

In the US, car emissions account for about a quarter of carbon dioxide (CO2) produced.  In China and India, this percentage is even greater.  So perhaps if you would like to stay above water and don’t particularly want polar bears hanging out in your backyard, it might be prudent to reconsider your driving habits.  Need a new car?  Get one with better gas mileage.  Driving to work?  Hitch a ride with a friend.  I think change is possible, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard. The thing is, we’ve got to start somewhere!

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