Whilst your shivering in the cold and wondering how much it’s costing you to heat your home or business, spare a thought for one of the most the most charismatic animals on the planet, the polar bear, facing the exact opposite problem in the form of global warming.
It was reported last month by The World Meteorological Organisation and based on findings recorded in 2012, that greenhouse gas has shown an increased and continuing upward trend which will drive climate change and its impact will change the nature of our planet for thousands of years to come.
The warming of our climate has shown a 32% increase since 1990 as a result of carbon dioxide and other heat trapping gases such as methane and nitrous oxide. Carbon dioxide is the main culprit with up to 80% of the increase caused mainly by fuel fossil emissions. Although about 50% of CO2 emitted by our activities remains in the atmosphere, the rest is absorbed in the biosphere and oceans.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recently stated that the result of these increases is the cause of our more extreme weather, the melting of ice sheets and glaciers and consequent rise in sea levels. Research suggests that based on current practices this could result in a rise in temperature of 4.6 degrees by the end of the century compared to our pre industrial past.
The concentration of CO2 which is what remains in the atmosphere after the complex process and interactions of absorption into the biosphere and oceans and it is reported that most aspects affecting our climate will continue even if we emissions were stopped this very minute. There are other gases which have a role to play such as Methane and Nitrous Oxide which itself poses a real threat to the stratospheric ozone layer we here so much amount, allowing harmful ultraviolet rays through.
The sun’s energy would normally be reflected back by the ice, the more of it that melts, the more of the sun’s energy is absorbed by the dark water which in turn speeds up the warming process of the oceans and results in climate change. The Arctic is warming at a rate almost twice that of other areas of the earth, the result is the loss of habitat as the ice disappears. Add to that toxic chemicals and pollution, industrial activity increasing, along with oil and gas exploration and things don’t look too good.
What does this mean? For us, future generations will be living on a whole other kind of planet. For our polar bear? A real threat of extinction to yet another species thought to have been around for an estimated 70,000 or more years.
There is also the global economic impact of the loss of ice running into millions…. but that’s a whole other story!