I fondly remember those days when I memorized the names of oceans (Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Arctic and Antarctic). However it looks like my son will have only four names to memorize instead of five. The Arctic Ice caps (which is actually considered as the arctic sea) are melting at an alarming rate. Though for a long time UN and many organizations kept reminding us about the global warming and the dwindling ice caps of Arctic sea over the last two years the rate of melting has reached record proportions.
“A new daily record would be likely by the end of August,” said Ted Scambos, lead scientist at the data center, which monitors ice in the Arctic. For those who don’t know, the polar region is not like our part of the world. These places have continuous sunshine for 6 months and continuous darkness for 6 months (Sun rises and sets only once a year in the poles). Which means in the north pole (arctic region) the sun is above the horizon continuously from March 21 until September 21, so the maximum retreat of ice happens during the third week of September, however this year records are broken and historic low levels of ice is recorded in the third week of August, so every day from now is going to be a new record.
Ted Scambos finally said “It just simply doesn’t look like what a polar scientist expects the arctic to look like. It’s wide open and the (ice) cap is very small. It’s a visceral thing. You look at it and that just doesn’t look like the Arctic Ocean any more.”
Why is Polar Ice Important?
The amount of sea ice in the Arctic ocean is extremely important because this region is responsible for the global weather. It is often addressed as the world’s air conditioner. A change in the ice level in Arctic region can wreck havoc in Mexico or Sri Lanka. Melting of ice caps will result in warmer sea currents, higher evaporation, floods and droughts will affect countries all around the globe.
What can we do?
It is important to realize that every one of us contributed (and is contributing) to this disaster. An average urban dweller’s carbon footprint is around 4,000 kilos per year. Which means most of us add 4000 kilos of carbon (in the form of carbon-di-oxide and carbon-monoxide) in to the air. Most of our day to day activity adds on to this, things like driving, using computers, air conditioners in cars and homes. Millions of trees are cut everyday for furniture, paper, fire-wood and so on. One fully grown tree can offset 20 kilos of CO2 from the atmosphere per year. We in addition to contributing to the global warming also are responsible for the dwindling number of trees.
Ways to decrease your carbon footprint:
Many wonder how to control the global carbon levels in the atmosphere, because we cannot stop the industries from running. However Studies suggest that almost 35% of all carbon emissions originate from our household. We can reduce this a great deal by making small changes to our lifestyle.
1) Turn off appliances when not using them: For every 2 units of power we spend one kilogram of coal is burned. It will also save our electricity cost.
2) Shop with a reusable or cloth bag: Over the past decade a lot is being said and written about banning plastic. Plastic is one of the most important inventions of mankind, if used wisely it can save the earth. The important thing though is to reuse it without disposing it. However if you are against using plastic bags then you can use cloth bags. Every paper bag is made by cutting down tress, so avoid paper bags.
3) Lower the brightness of the computer screen: Computer monitors consume good amount of power, by decreasing the brightness of the screen you can reduce the power consumption a great deal and it is also good for the eyes.
4) Buy Local Groceries: On an average every vegetable that you buy in a supermarket travels 500-600 miles before reaching your home, so it is better to encourage the local produce by buying it from a farmers market. Avoid processed and tinned foods, because the raw material travels a great deal of distance to the processing house and then from the processing house to the super markets. If you consider the amount of fuel burnt by the vehicle, you will be amazed to realize how much carbon you can offset by avoiding these.
5) Avoid Bottled Water: This is one of the biggest contributors of global warming, the purifying plants and the transportation of water results in a huge carbon footprint. In many Asian and African countries the plastic bottles are never recycled leading to an even higher footprint. So it is better to avoid bottled water. However if you don’t have access to good water then it is better to go for water in reusable cans.
The needs are increasing with the increasing population and we cannot decrease the population or the needs right away. Instead we need to focus on ways to reduce carbon footprints, by planting more trees and being responsible user of resources. Saving few gallons of petrol a month might not add a great deal to your overall savings, but can go a long way in decreasing your carbon footprint. Planting one sapling a month can change the place you live completely within a couple of years. Every one of us can make a telling change to this world by planting trees. If you cannot plant trees yourself, then support those who do (Project Green Hands)