In the latest sign of global warming’s impact, sea ice in the Arctic has melted to its smallest surface area since record keeping began. Arctic ice naturally melts to some degree at this time of year, but this year’s minimum is nearly 50 percent less than the average from 1979 to 2000. The sea ice reached its apparent low point for the year on Sunday, when it covered just 24 percent of the surface of the Arctic Ocean. The previous record low from 2007 was 29 percent. Scientists have long viewed Arctic sea ice as a key indicator of global warming. On Wednesday, the environmental group Greenpeace hosted a “Polar Emergency” event in New York City. Inupiat leader Caroline Cannon, from Point Hope, Alaska, and the environmental activist Bill McKibben both addressed the unprecedented melting of Arctic sea ice.
Caroline Cannon: “We knew something was happening with the climate change, but I think, more so now, it’s critical that we take it to heart that it’s happening. There are people that rely on that Arctic Ocean. If the ice melts, it’s a scary thought, because it’s who we are, you know, it’s where the animals migrate. And my elders rely — the community elders rely on their vitamins and the traditional food that the oceans supply.”
Bill McKibben: “There’s no place on earth where we see the essential irony of our moment playing out more perfectly than in the Arctic. We have melted much of the sea ice in the Arctic. Our response to that has been not alarm, not panic, not a sense of urgency. Our basic response as a civilization to that has been, ‘Well, let’s go up there and drill for oil.’”
Cambridge Climate Research Associates
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