“As human beings, we are vulnerable to confusing the unprecedented with the improbable. In our everyday experience, if something has never happened before, we are generally safe in assuming it is not going to happen in the future, but the exceptions can kill you and climate change is one of those exceptions.”
According to the National Snow and Ice Data (NSIDC), since 1979 the arctic sea ice minimum extent has shrunk by more than 50% and even greater amounts of ice have been lost in the corresponding thinning of the ice. Many scientists are now agreeing that the Arctic may be completely ice-free during the summers as soon as the end of this decade. This will undoubtedly cause the type of environmental blow-back that threatens to result in various extinctions of many integral species of mammals and sea life as well as a catastrophic change of climate and potentially irreversible impact on the Arctic Ocean and consequently, the rest of the world. At this rate, it appears to be only a matter of time before the ice caps are completely depleted. The question is... What can we expect and how soon can we expect it?
It is important to understand the root cause of rapid climate change like we are currently seeing in the Arctic. Some claim that it is preposterous to attribute the changes in weather patterns, increased environmental catastrophes, and rapidly deteriorating ecosystems to humans. At this point in human history, every known living system is in a state of steady decline and we are the culprit. Climate change is happening first and fastest in the Arctic. We are starting to see that things are happening even faster than what scientists have indicated. By the end of the century, perhaps even in a few decades, the Arctic will be quite ice free, especially in the summertime. (Schmidt and Wolfe 2009)
The UN estimates that by the middle of the century, there may be a 150 million environmental refugees at any given time from climate change. (Udo 2011) This will affect LDC's the worst because they will likely not have the support or means to respond to large natural disasters as well as MDC's and will rely on outside help in order to save themselves. In turn, the distribution of the world's population will shift stressing environments even more due to the need for added resources in places that may not be capable of producing the necessary amount, especially with upwards of 200 million displaced people seeking urgent and reliable refuge.
One consequence of our survival strategy is that we live in a human-created environment where it’s very easy to think we’re different from other creatures. We’re smart, we create our own habitat, and we think we don’t need nature. It’s the economy that’s the most important thing. And in focusing on the economy, we’ve forgotten those ancient truths that kept us plugged in to nature, that helped us understand that if we do
something to offend the natural will, we’re going to pay a price. (Epstein and Ferber 2011) That’s the lesson that we’ve forgotten and we’re paying a price for today all over the globe.
This is a multidimensional dilemma that involves much more than just global-warming, fossil-fuel dependency, water and land contamination, or overpopulation issues. The rapid breakdown of our natural systems is a reflection of ourselves as a species and within that an intimate insight on how out of touch with nature we have grown. In fact, we are not saving the environment at all. The Earth was here before us and will still be here long after we leave, if we choose to eradicate ourselves from this planet. (Epstein and Ferber 2011) The Earth will regenerate and thrive in our absence. Although, we may survive to inherit a world no human wants to live in.
The primary thing that separates humans from the rest of the animals on Earth is our ability to foresee how the effects of what we...