Arctic thaws and our climate

Published 8:22 am Wednesday, August 21, 2019

To the Editor:
The September issue of National Geographic has some stunning pictures of the effect of our changing climate on the arctic. It’s an amazing story of cause and effect. As more greenhouse gases are released, the earth warms, and the north and south poles warm faster than other regions. This has caused the frozen soil in the arctic to begin melting in areas where it has not thawed since before the last Ice Age. Before the last Ice Age, much of the arctic was grassland with many bison and other grazing animals. When the Ice Age came, the grasses and many animals were buried in the earth, where decay was very slow due to the frigid temperatures. Since their decay was so slow, remnants of this long-ago life still remain. Our thawing arctic is making the final decomposition of this ancient life happen much faster, which releases greenhouse gases to the air. While this process was expected, new studies suggest it is happening faster than expected. Within a few decades, the arctic will release more greenhouse gas than the United States (one of the top emitters in the world), unless we take action to slow it down.
Since the amount of greenhouse gases released by our human activity is so large, we can slow arctic melting by changing the type of energy we use for electricity, heating, and driving our cars. Nobody expects these changes to happen overnight, but just as petroleum use grew very quickly in the last century, so renewable energy can grow quickly in this century. To do this, we first have to let our legislators know that we want this change. Carefully-thought legislation can help spread the costs of changing to renewable energy equally among us so no one is a loser, and we all become winners when we can get our energy from local sources and keep the climate more like God made it.

D. McCoy

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