Our Disappearing Ice

The North Pole. The South Pole. Both of these terms are heard and used from childhood on. They have always brought to mind, for human beings from all over the world, the image of ice. Ice, everywhere. And freezing temperatures. Sub-zero temperatures. Temperatures so cold they could kill you if you’re not careful – which is why most human beings, out of the more than seven billion human beings in the world, have never visited either the North Pole or the South Pole.

This may soon be changing, unfortunately. The idea of the North and South Poles, as a potential future vacation destination, have increased dramatically over the past few years. This is because the famous ice of both the North and the South Poles, including the ice shelf in Antarctica, and the ice shelf in Greenland, are melting, rapidly.

Melting at frightening, unbelievably fast rates.

This may be good for oil companies, travel agents, and cruise lines, but for everyone else, it is potentially catastrophic.

Because if the ice in the North Pole and the South Pole both continue to melt as they have been melting, and, perhaps melt at an even faster rate in the future, methane, which is a greenhouse gas, will be released from underneath the melting ice shelves and the melting Arctic permafrost and go into the atmosphere, adding to the greenhouse gases already there. This will lead to an increased rate of global warming. The sea levels around the world could rise dramatically as a result. Sea levels have already risen, at a steady pace, for years. This is only going to increase and get worse. And with this will come the flooding of coastal areas, where many of the world’s great cities are.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Arctic will be nearly ice-free in the summer, before the end of the 21st century. This has the potential to jump-start a level of climate change that has not yet been imagined by scientists or the public.

National Geographic tells in its September 2013 issue that if we keep burning fossil fuels indefinitely, global warming will eventually melt all the ice at the poles and on mountaintops, raising sea level by 216 feet. Read the full story