The period from June 2015 to May 2016 was the hottest 12-month period on record. So far, the record has been broken nine consecutive times. This rapid planetary heating is felt most intensely in the Arctic region. The Arctic Sea ice extent is now said to be more than a half million square miles smaller than it was back in 1981. Now, chunks of ice the size of Cuba are disappearing every few days.
This is (in part) the result of global warming. Back in the 1980s and 1990s, we ditched our aerosol cans in a worldwide movement to repair that hole in the ozone layer. The hole in the ozone is part of what accounts for global warming. The hole in the ozone is directly over Antarctica, but affects us globally of course. Climate changes know of no political, cultural, or even physical boundaries.
Decades ago, we learned of a thing called the ozone layer. The ozone layer is basically a part of the sky. Ozone is a pale blue gas with a pungent odor. Ozone creates a blanket over the earth in a way that protects us from the sun's harmful ultra violet rays. The chemical formula of ozone is O3. It breaks down into O2 (normal oxygen of the kind that keeps us breathing) as it reaches earth's lower atmosphere. In other words, we oxygen dependent creatures need the ozone layer to survive. However, decades of air pollution have created a hole in the ozone. Not only that, but the hole seems to be expanding at an alarming rate.
Paradoxically, as the globe warms and the glaciers do their vanishing act, Arctic sea ice seems to be increasing, according to some studies. However, in another, more recent report, the Arctic sea ice extent hit a record low this past June.
Global warming is affecting the Arctic regions twice as fast as the global average. These atmospheric changes are well documented in this year's report card from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). According to NOAA's chief scientific officer, Rick Spinrad, "We know what happens in the Arctic, doesn't stay in the Arctic. Changes in the region affect climate globally, and security internationally".
Not that international security will matter if we can't breathe the air.
The NOAA also maintains that more than half of Greenland's ice sheet melted last year. The year's NOAA annual report card was compiled by dozens of expert researchers from 11 different countries.
These steady increases in temperature are also affecting the region's mammals, fish, and plant life. For instance, walruses now spend more time on solid ground, for lack of sufficient ice floes where they might mate and breed, while also being protected from predators.
In other areas of the world, the duration and frequency of droughts are increasing. In arid regions, global warming has devastating effects on numerous crops, animals, and people.
It seems too late to be discussing all this now. All we can do now is watch the reality show that we, as a world, have created.
Contributor & Chief Coffee Maker