A New Normal
The vast ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica may seem impenetrable and forever cold; however, according to alarming statistics detailed in the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Arctic Report Card, the reliably frozen landscapes of the arctic may soon become a thing of the past. The report indicated that the Arctic environmental system has reached a ‘new normal’, identified by long-term losses in the extent and thickness of the sea ice cover, the extent and duration of the winter snow cover and the mass of ice in the Greenland Ice Sheet and Arctic glaciers, and warming sea surface and permafrost temperatures.
These effects have been directly felt by the indigenous communities in the Arctic, for whom the consequences of global warming are particularly pronounced, and who are losing their way of life and traditional practices due to the erosion and loss of lakes and animals-factors for which they could make a good case in front of the UN for violation of Article 27 of the ICCPR.
These alarming statistics need to be noticed by every country-particularly developing ones, with those with poorer coastal areas, like Bangladesh, which will be hit worse, as richer ones, like New York and San Francisco, will find resources to fend off rising tides. The dangers of melting of the ice sheets of the Arctic will be too disastrous to state- it will result in extreme weather conditions, loss of lives and environmental refugees.
Perhaps these happenings will persuade governments and international organisations to value agreements such as the Paris Climate Agreement. The importance of curtailing greenhouse gas emissions, which have globally increased by 35% from 1990-2010, is higher now than ever. If governments will not take the lead, then the private sector needs to take the initiative to reduce their carbon footprints, if they hope to have a future market to sell to.