Climate change is a topic that many of us think is something that will affect future generations, perhaps hundreds of years from now. But what if we look at it from a different viewpoint?
What if we could travel back in time 17 million years to when the Grand Canyon was just forming? Would we have believed that the national monument, now nearly a mile deep in places, would some day be a major tourist attraction? Probably not. But time and the forces of nature that come with it, along with the effect of humans on the planet, have a way of changing what we see – sometimes dramatically.
We don’t have to go back millions of years to see such changes either. A recent study indicates that the Arctic will become drastically greener in just a matter of decades. “So what?” one might say. “Who goes there anyway?” Significant to this study on climate change is that it was done in the Arctic where not much can grow or live due to the harsh environment. To see change of any kind is unusual.
The research team included scientists from AT&T Labs-Research, Woods Hole Research Center, Colgate University, Cornell University and the University of York. These are organizations that have a very global view on things that will affect our future.
My father-in-law worked for AT&T during the early days of microwave communications and sometimes told a story of how researchers in his lab used the then-new technology to cook hot dogs. That technology would later also be used for the microwave ovens we all know so well. This story has much of the same, believable flavor.”Such widespread redistribution of Arctic vegetation would have impacts that reverberate through the global ecosystem,” said Richard Pearson of the American Museum of Natural History’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation in an RDMag article.
It will begin with something as simple as some species of birds being unable to seasonally migrate to particular polar habitats, such as open space for ground-nesting, suggests the study. But things turn worse very quickly as the sun’s radiation, normally reflected back into space when it hits snow, will have less of it to hit and will stick around, accelerating global warming.
Just one commonly accepted effect of global warming is flooding in some coastal areas and more powerful storms.
To the world of travel, that means popular beach destinations could be under water in a few hundred years. More immediate, some of today’s iconic travel destinations, already struggling with sea level issues like Venice, Italy, or the Netherlands, could be doomed much quicker.
Right now, for example, Venice, Italy, is being protected against rising tides in the Adriatic Sea by rows of mobile gates, intended to isolate the Venetian Lagoon when the tide rises above a certain level. The Netherlands, a geographically low-lying country, has a great amount of its land and people at or below sea level and will also be affected by rising ocean levels.
This new study, while not talked about much in the press, is a clear indicator of what the future holds and good food for thought.
Of even more immediate concern, and visually a clear indicator of a problem we can do something about, is today’s reality of the “floating island of plastic” in the Pacific Ocean.
Brought to the area by ocean currents that move around the planet like a slow-motion whirlpool, opposing the wind and earth’s rotational forces, tens of thousands of pounds of garbage wash ashore here every year.
“These ecosystems are very connected. If the oceans are in trouble, we humans are in trouble. We don’t realize that we are threatening our own existence,” says Dr. Gregor Hodgson, founder and executive director of Reef Check Organization in this video.
[Image credit – Flickr user Kris Krug]