Arctic Ocean Failing To Freeze Normally
At the beginning of this month, the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported that the surface area of Arctic sea ice reached its lowest extent ever recorded for any January last month. Now, the Center is showing that the extent of Arctic sea ice has dipped further than two standard deviations below the normal level. It’s also remarkably far lower than sea ice surface area was in the 2011-2012 season, the year with the previously lowest extent of Arctic sea ice.
There are consequences for this Arctic melting, far beyond the strange idea of an open Arctic Ocean for ships to cross without fear of icebergs. Melting Arctic sea ice may be linked to more extreme weather events in lower lattitudes. It’s eliminating barriers that once separated smaller ecosystems from each other, leading to increased risk of extinction. Melting Arctic ice could disrupt ocean currents, changing weather patterns drastically on land as well as at sea. Reduction in the surface area of sea ice will speed up global warming and accelerate the rise in sea levels.
Despite the clear threat, most members of Congress continue to pretend that nothing is going on. Less than three weeks ago, in the middle of that record-breaking low-ice January, U.S. Representative Lamar Smith declared of research on the impact of climate change upon people living in the Arctic region that “I think it is clear that this is not how the American taxpayers’ dollars should be spent.”
Why on earth would Lamar Smith oppose research into the damage being done in the Arctic by climate change? According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Lamar Smith has taken over a million dollars from political action committees and individuals associated with corporations that sell fossil fuels, which are a significant contributing factor in the development and acceleration of climate change.