It was with some trepidation that I settled in to watch Chasing Ice, a movie about the rapidly vanishing glaciers that contain the majority of earth’s freshwater. But it didn’t leave me or my fellow viewers feeling helpless, and it didn’t harangue us with a fire hose of facts. Rather it did what great movies are supposed to do, and what the film’s protagonist has been working for years to do: It showed us that the earth’s warming temperatures and seas are melting arctic ice at a scary pace.
The fate of Shell’s deep sea oil platform, the Kulluk, captured attention last week when it cut loose in choppy seas and ran aground on Kodiak Island in Alaska. Observers held their breath, waiting to hear if the rig had been damaged and was leaking oil. It wasn’t.
Satellite pictures of the Arctic suggest that this year’s summer melt likely will be worse than last year’s, providing a dramatic demonstration of how global warming can snowball — no pun intended.
As the ice melts back farther and farther each summer, it loses its ability to reflect heat from the earth, becoming a contributor to, as well as a victim of, global warming. In addition, as the permafrost of the Arctic regions warms, it releases stored carbon, adding to greenhouse gases, and furthering the escalation of warming temperatures, scientists say. All this bad news, unfortunately doesn’t have any quick fixes, but will continue escalating until and unless global warming is stalled or reduced.