“What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic.”
-By Arctic Basecamp
As our world quickly surpasses 416 ppm of global atmospheric carbon dioxide, as sea levels rise around the world, and forest fires burn across the northern and southern hemispheres, the above quote begins to ring truer than ever. The intensified warming, we are seeing in the Arctic is bringing with it global devastation. The accelerating loss of Arctic Sea ice during the 21st Century is the canary in the coal mine for climate change. While scientific research confirms the reality of human-induced climate change, for many people, its impact still appears remote and intangible.
Arctic Sea ice, land-based ice, snowfall, and ocean circulation all profoundly affect life across the entire planet - what happens in the Arctic really doesn’t stay there. Just like the Amazonian forests are the “lungs of the world”, the Arctic is a crucial part of the Earth’s atmospheric and ocean circulatory system.
Arctic systems regulate global climate by keeping the planet cooler than it otherwise would be, and the loss of bright ice cover (which is replaced by dark sections of water) fundamentally alters this natural reflector of energy and with it the global distribution of heat, rainfall, or snowfall patterns around the world.
As climate change progresses and Arctic terrestrial and sea ice continue to melt and decline at unprecedented levels, sea-level rise, abnormal and extreme weather events, and widespread coastal flooding will be felt far from the Arctic Circle.
The Arctic is in crisis. Loss of Arctic Sea ice and snow is a threat multiplier:
· The Earth is darker now, absorbing more solar energy, exacerbating global warming by 25%-40%
· Rapid Arctic warming accelerates the loss of land ice (glaciers and ice sheets), increasing the pace of sea-level rise
· Additional warming accelerates the thaw of permafrost, releasing yet more heat-trapping gases
· Disproportionate Arctic warming disrupts weather patterns around the northern hemisphere, leading to more extreme weather events
Understanding that what is happening in the Arctic affects us all is at the core of Arctic Basecamp’s mission – to speak science to power. As well as returning to the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos in January 2022 (for the fifth time), we will be attending COP26 in November 2021, where we will be showcasing our developing Arctic Risk Platform. This one-of-a-kind program will highlight Arctic tipping points in a way that is easy and accessible for journalists, policymakers, world leaders and anyone interested in finding out more.
What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic, and it is only through bold climate action taken by those in power that we will be able to prevent this emergency from escalating any further. It is true that we have to halve emissions by 2030. The risk of irreversible loss of Arctic summer sea ice above 1.5C is high. The world won’t end on 1 January 2031, but the world could be a very different and inhospitable place for our future generations if we miss these targets. We all need to play our part and make change happen.
Think about your own actions:
Be aware of your own carbon footprint (use a calculator like the one at carbonfootprint.com), use your power and think about who you bank with, what you buy and who you buy it from.
Tweet your favourite brands and ask them what they are doing to reach net zero. Words aren’t enough - ask them for proof.
Do your own low-carbon thing. Reduce emissions wherever possible. Gandhi said: be the change you want to see in the world. There is no better time than now to put that into action. Fly or drive less, buy green energy, turn your gadgets off rather than on standby, eat less meat and try slow food; the list goes on and on. Choose five things and build your own carbon reduction plan now.
Pay more attention:
Seek out trusted sources of information, as well as Arctic Basecamp, Extreme E and Rosberg X Racing, check out the National Snow and Ice Data Center who provide regular updates. Blog websites like the Arctic Sea Ice Forum also track more informal yet technical discussions. And if you only follow one person on Twitter, make sure it’s Dr Zack Labe for his wonderful data visualisations
Watching the ice melt more closely won’t make it melt any slower on its own. Cumulative emissions of CO2 are the main culprit driving the melting of Arctic summer sea ice. The only way to help save Arctic ice is to demand action – from yourself, your city, your country and from the companies that make all the goods and services you consume.
Hold governments and CEOs to account – support companies and politicians who are leading the charge towards a new low-carbon future. Sign up for updates from Race to Zero, the United Nations global campaign to rally leadership and support from businesses, cities, regions and investors for a healthy, resilient, zero-carbon recovery.
Use your vote. Use your voice. Use your power.
You can learn more about the work Arctic Basecamp and their incredible team of scientists are doing by visiting their website https://arcticbasecamp.org/ or by following them on Twitter @ArcticBasecamp, Instagram @arctic.basecamp, or Facebook @ArcticDavos.