What Are Thawing Permafrost Risks?

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If you read my previous post, Thawing Permafrost A Huge Risk, you are already at least one step closer to understanding what the risks of thawing permafrost in the Arctic region are. In short, thawing permafrost gives even the most knowledgeable climate scientists and environmental experts a reason to scratch their heads.

Who knows for sure what the consequences of thawing permafrost will be? It is not the first time in the history of mankind that we are faced with completely new problems, requiring for us to find completely new solutions to solve these. Natural warming of Earth´s climate is one thing, but what we have accomplished as human beings within only one century is something that we can only blame ourselves for. It is a proven fact that since the Industrial Revolution, climate change and the warming of our planet has been man-made. Thus, in order to stop this development of anthropogenic climate change, us human beings are responsible for taking necessary actions to stop emitting toxic pollutants, including greenhouse gases which are largely responsible for the climatic changes our Earth is today experiencing.

Do we have to wait until permafrost thaws further, and possibly experience its devastating consequences before we learn? Do we need more catastrophic climate change events and natural disasters before taking action? Do we want our atmosphere and the air we breathe, our lands, our oceans and other water sources to be further polluted with toxins, and the release of methane and other harmful greenhouse gases that destroy our planet?

If we want Earth to be habitable for future generations, the response must quite simply be NO to all of these questions.

We do not need climate catastrophes, environmental disasters, toxins, pollutants killing millions of people, animals and plants each year. We do not need to wait until it is too late to take action(s) to prevent the destruction of our home planet. We do not have to let all of this happen.

Learn more about the risks from permafrost thawing by watching YaleClimateConnections´s video “Permafrost: The Tipping Time Bomb”:

 

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Climate Change Transforms Arctic Rivers

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Climate change is not only transforming Arctic rivers, but affecting and transforming rivers all over the world. Why is this happening, and why does it matter?

When the climate changes around the world, for instance in the Arctic region, it has irreversible impacts upon our environment everywhere. Just think about the evolution of the Sahara desert. It was not always such a vast area. Other examples of drastic changes in our world´s environment include lakes Chad and Victoria on the African continent. In India, river Ganges is suffering from extreme pollution, so bad that the government in India is currently investing huge amounts of effort and money to clean up the river. In many places worldwide, the regular cleaning up of e.g. water sources: rivers, lakes, and oceans is necessary in order to keep them healthy.

Everything we do on this planet has an impact upon our environment, including Arctic rivers. When we pollute the environment, releasing toxins into the atmosphere and into our water sources these do suffer as a consequence. When (Arctic) rivers are impacted, these may either suffer due to erosion, change their natural and/or usual routes, or even worse, disappear completely within the blink of an eye. Scary. When drastic changes like these occur in our environment, we have to be prepared to understand the significance of these changes upon the life in these rivers, but also all the life depending upon and surrounding these rivers. The price of these changes is immeasurable. In fact, there is no amount of money that can buy us back the environment that we have once the damage has been created.

Learn more about the impact of climate change on our environment, including rivers, by watching SmithsonianNMAI´s video “Impacts of Climate Change: Our Rivers and Coasts”:

 

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Who Protects Arctic Species From Climate Change?

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Whose job is it to protect Arctic species from climate change? Is it a mission dedicated to someone especially, or is there something we could all do to help these species from the threats of climate change? What can we do to help these species? By adopting a polar bear and keeping it as a pet in future?

We all know that keeping a polar bear as a pet would be impossible. Polar bears need their current home environment, surrounded by glaciers, ice, snow and water, to survive. In fact, if and when the Arctic region´s glaciers melt, as they are predicted to do during summer months in only a few years of time, polar bears is one of the Arctic species that will face serious challenges for survival, even become threatened by extinction. Where will polar bears live without any ice?

Do we have any universal laws for the protection of animals, different species and wildlife? It seems that we do not, although many people and organizations are dedicated to the protection of animals, such as the non-profit organizations WWF (World Wildlife Foundation) and Polar Bears International. Through these organizations we can for example make donations and become protectors of specific species. In Finland, for instance, we have a species called the Saimaa ringed seal, which is under serious threat of extinction due to its natural habitat changing so drastically due to e.g. fishing practices, lack of snow and ice. At this moment, according to the The Finnish Association for Nature Conservation (FANC), there are only 360 Saimaa ringed seals left. WWF and FANC are trying to protect the Saimaa ringed seal from facing extinction, and, through actions supporting the Saimaa ringed seal to be able to grow the population of this highly endangered seal species.

The Saimaa ringed seal and polar bears are two examples of species that are seriously being threatened e.g. through fishing practices and climate change. According to the WWF, other species under threat include reindeer, a number of plant species, and many migratory birds. Even the Arctic fox is under threat. And, how about the extremely shy snow leopard? Snow owls? Examples are many. What other animals and species can you come up with?

Learn more about how to protect endangered species by watching MsMojo´s video “Top 10 Ways To Protect Endangered Species”:

 

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What is The Future of the Arctic?

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“The future of the Arctic and its biodiversity requires an active and decisive approach to conservation and sustainability”. -The Arctic Council

When communicating about conservation and sustainability, it is necessary to have a lot of faith in addition to actually taking even radical actions towards creating a sustainable future for our environment and our whole home planet.

With so many disasters worldwide, all the catastrophic news and forecasts about what will soon happen with Earth, its environment and its population, it is easy to choose either to close one´s eyes and other senses, become insensitive, blind and indifferent to reality, or, become cynical, or, become skeptic, even angry and frustrated. However, this is not a time to give up. In times of (environmental) crises we need strong leaders and efficient leadership: people around the world who will step up and take necessary actions to ensure that we will have life upon Earth left by the end of this century, that we can create sustainable economies and save what is possible to save before we actually end up having a climate catastrophe.

It is up to both individual and co-operative practices everywhere upon Earth to prevent further damage through the release of dangerous toxins, including black coal, greenhouse gases and other pollutants that damage our environment as a whole, including everything and everyone that lives on Earth. How this can and will be done is a question about energy efficiency and overall consumption habits of human beings upon Earth. We already have all the necessary knowledge and technology to create sustainable environments. The question is, how well can our planet cope with the rapidly warming climate, the rapidly growing population and all the destruction that us human beings have already caused?

Who knows with certainty what the future of the Arctic looks like? If the current development continues, the Arctic glaciers will continue melting at an unimaginable speed, warming the climate in the Arctic region and elsewhere upon Earth. Who knows if we can afford the continued melting of the Arctic region´s glaciers, ice sheets, and permafrost? How will these changes affect other regions upon Earth? Will this e.g. accelerate the expansion of the Sahara desert into the South? Will the melting Arctic region lead to increasingly much drought and floods around the world? Who has the answers to these questions?

Learn more by watching Understanding Climate Change´s video “The Once and Future Arctic: Prof Stephanie Pfirman (February 2017):

 

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How To Guarantee Arctic Environmental Well-Being?

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With so much dangerous toxins, greenhouse gases, and pollution from e.g. industrial waste and the inefficient burning of black coal in Earth´s atmosphere, how can we ensure that these toxins and pollutants do not end up anywhere in our environment, especially in the Arctic region which warms at least twice as fast as the rest of our planet?

There is no other way of preventing harmful pollutants of destroying our environment, including ourselves, than removing them completely from our way of living. Yet, with the technologies and methods of production we use today, this prevention seems impossible. How long will it take until we destroy ourselves and our home planet? According to the most optimistic prognoses, we have this century left. Others say, only a few decades. Others say, only a few years or at the maximum, a decade. Are we headed towards a climate catastrophe? Let us hope that we do not, and that we still have time to take action.

This is one of the main messages of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG´s) that are a continuum to the Millennium Development Goals – UN SDG Goal Number 13: Take URGENT action to combat climate change and its impacts.

This is no joke, really. These goals were all set for an extremely important reason. In fact, all of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals are in one way or the other interlinked to climate action and climate change. Learn more about UN´s Sustainable Development Goals here.

We have NO time to wast. We must all take action now, both on individual, business, organizational, and governmental levels. Especially much responsibility must be taken by the largest emitters on this planet: China, The U.S.A. and the European Union. Those who destroy and pollute the most must act NOW and transform their economies into increasingly much sustainable places of living. This is not something concerning only the Arctic region, although this is where the warming of the planet is faster than elsewhere. Right now, in the COP23 Climate Summit in Bonn, hosted by Fiji, sea level rise and its threat to millions and millions of people worldwide is being discussed very seriously. If we cannot prevent sea levels from rising, swallowing up whole islands and coastal cities around the world, what will the future look like for these people? Where will they live? What will they eat? How will they produce food in environments and climates that change so rapidly that our current ways of producing food are unsustainable? If you have answers, please let me know, or at least take action upon them. For example in Finland completely new ways of food production are already being implemented by experimental and progressive businesses that have foreseen what we have ahead of us.

Learn more about the melting Arctic by watching European Environment Agency´s video “Melting Arctic: Environmental Atlas of Europe – Greenland”:

 

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Ice Sheet Loss in Greenland Accelerating

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The accelerating warming of the Arctic region´s climate leads to glaciers melting permanently, which causes sea level rise all over our planet. Why is this a problem, and, not only in and for the Arctic region?

To understand why sea level rise is so detrimental for our planet, think about all the people who live in so called climate hot spots, especially vulnerable regions such as (large) coastal cities with millions of inhabitants. If and when sea levels rise sufficiently much without any action being taken to prevent this, these cities and regions will end up being covered by water. Furthermore, especially vulnerable island states, are estimated to be inhabitable within only a few decades due to sea level rise.

Fiji, a group of around 300 islands, is one of the already affected island states. Some of its islands, including Tuvalu, Kiribati, Vanuatu and the Marshall Islands are already suffering from extreme weather events. Fiji is right now hosting the UN Climate Change Conference COP23 in Bonn. Learn more here.

 

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Arctic Hunting & Fishing Under Threat

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Why are hunting and fishing in the Arctic region under serious threat, and why does this have to be taken seriously? Do we not have enough marine life and wildlife to keep up with our fishing and hunting methods the way we always have? Even in the fragile and vulnerable Arctic region, which is home to millions of people, many of whom belong to indigenous communities and have always lived according to the laws of nature, depending completely upon the food that the Arctic region has to offer. The unique Arctic region, which is also home to a unique flora and fauna.

It is no longer news that the Arctic region´s climate is warming, and at least twice as fast as elsewhere on our planet. Nevertheless, the importance of bringing awareness about these changes in climate to citizens of this world is more important than ever. With incomplete understanding about what is taking place with the climate in the Arctic, it is challenging for people to take action. Thus, your voice does matter. Your improved actions do matter – despite of the fact that the inefficient burning of black coal is the major single contributor to climate warming in the Arctic region, and thus the industries burning black coal inefficiently. We can all contribute on an individual level, even through small actions and choices that contribute to improvements in how energy is being used worldwide.

According to EU Arctic – Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment of development of the Arctic, the inefficient burning of black coal is the one single largest contributor of climate warming in the Arctic region. Energy efficiency and the improvement of black coal-burning practices, or its complete abolishing, therefore, are pivotal in order to slow down the (Arctic) climate from warming. Currently, the majority of black coal pollution finds it way to the Arctic from Asian countries, drifting all the way to the Arctic region through air currents. Yet, the (inefficient) burning of black coal is not the only pollutant affecting the Arctic region.

In short, the Arctic region´s climate is warming drastically fast: when glaciers melt, many of the species at home in the Arctic environment are being threatened by complete extinction. Perhaps the best known of these species is the polar bear. If and when species that depend upon the Arctic region´s unique climate lose their living environment, this will lead to catastrophic consequences not only for all of these endangered species, but also to millions of people who depend upon these species in order to thrive and to survive.

Learn more by watching Al Jazeera´s reportage about “Arctic way of living under threat”:

 

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Arctic Glaciers & Permafrost Diminishing

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Climate change in the Arctic region is very real, and extremely rapid. Climate change skeptics, resisters and pseudoscientists want to claim the opposite, and who knows what else than ignorance and lack of awareness is behind the behavior of these people. At least it is a fact that the Arctic region holds most of the world´s remaining oil and gas resources, which certain businesses and countries would like to exploit without any concern about the Arctic region´s well-being, or the possible risks and consequences of oil and gas exploitation in the Arctic region.

On a daily basis, I encounter climate change skeptics, climate change deniers and pseudoscientists online, the majority of whom are active on Twitter. There are people who for example claim the Earth to be flat. I personally receive for example following kinds of Tweets: “Climate change is a hoax, which has only been made up by the EU and the UN elitists who want to make money with climate change”.

We already have more than strong evidence, and facts, about anthropogenic climate change, which is especially rapid in the Arctic region. Glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, and thawing permafrost is now a reality. Although, according to some research data, the Arctic Sea would be entirely ice free during summer months by 2040, more recent data suggests that the Arctic Sea could actually be completely ice free during summer months within a few years only. What this signifies for the Arctic region, and for our overall climate upon our planet is yet uncertain. What is known already is that with the ice and snow covers melting, increasingly much carbon dioxide and methane will be released into Earth´s atmosphere, causing our planet to warm even more rapidly.

Learn more about the Arctic region and why some businesses and countries do not seem to mind if the Arctic Sea becomes ice free. Free Documentary´s “Ice Race – Into the Unknown – the Story of the Arctic” reveals a lot:

 

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Arctic Ecosystems Are Under Threat

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The Arctic Council with its eight member countries USA, Canada, Russia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Finland, is one of many organizations dedicated to protecting and speaking up for the Arctic region. Other well-known, official organizations protecting and conducting research upon the Arctic region include Greenpeace, WWF, The Arctic Institute, NRDC, Alaska Conservation Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Earthjustice and Polar Bears International, just to name a few.

What these organizations all have in common is their concern for the Arctic region, including conservation, protection and significant research upon the Arctic region. One major publication was published in 2005 with the Arctic Council initiating a research project whereby an international team of more than 300 scientists and experts shared their knowledge and created the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. (ACIA, 2005. Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. Cambridge University Press, 1042p. http://www.acia.uaf.edu).

ACIA is a comprehensive report upon the Arctic region and its climate, including basically everything about the Arctic region´s climate historically and contemporary, analyzing and evaluating the future of the Arctic region through models and scenarios. AMAP (The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme), which is one of the Arctic Council´s working groups, also provides a number of publicly available research reports on their website.

Arctic climate change is real, and it is faster than elsewhere on our planet. Evidence of this speaks for itself, and has been assessed through numerous research projects by the world´s leading organizations dedicated to the conservation and protection of the Arctic region, some of which have been mentioned in this article. With the Arctic region having a unique and fragile ecosystem, its conservation and protection is essential to protect our whole planet from the partly yet unknown consequences of continued warming in global average temperatures, which, as stated and signed in the Paris Agreement, have to be taken seriously, since even slight increases in global average temperatures can have catastrophic impacts upon Earth and all life on this planet.

Learn more about the fragile and vulnerable Arctic region´s ecosystem by watching Polar Bears International´s video “The Arctic Ecosystem: Tundra Connections Webcast with NWF”:

 

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Arctic Climate Change Affects the Whole World

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Many of you are probably aware of the fact that Finland holds the Chairmanship in the Arctic Council 2017-2019. The Arctic Council is the leading intergovernmental forum for addressing issues concerning and related to the Arctic Region. (U.S. Department of State – Diplomacy in Action – Arctic Council). The Arctic Council was established by the Ottawa Declaration in 1996, and its members consist of the eight countries with territory above the Arctic Circle: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Russia and the United States. (U.S. Department of State – Diplomacy in Action – Arctic Council).

According to the Ministry For Foreign Affairs of Finland, Finland during its Chairmanship in the Arctic Council will strengthen the Arctic cooperation and emphasize the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change and the UN sustainable development goals.

The Finnish Meteorological Institute, on the other hand, highlights the already available expertise of the Arctic region in Finland, stating that climate change is more rapid in the Arctic region compared to the rest of the world.

Learn more about the implications of Arctic climate change by watching U.S. Department of State´s video “The Global Implications of Arctic Climate Change”:

 

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