A recent article on the news website of the National Parks Service in Alaska called “The Arctic” has caused much controversy. The main point of the article was to call attention to the melting permafrost of the Arctic. It cited a study by scientists of the National Academy of Sciences, which concluded that the permafrost is melting faster than the researchers had estimated, thereby increasing the risk of huge sea-level rise. The article also made mention of the potential for methane leakage from the thawing permafrost, and the increased risk of flooding due to the melting permafrost and the meltwater.
Many people have expressed concern over the possibility that the Arctic Ocean could soon be ice free in the summer, with consequent major flooding in Alaska. Others have raised the specter of runaway climate change, where large parts of the world will experience climate change brought about by melting permafrost and rising atmospheric temperatures. Some have even suggested that the melting of the Arctic permafrost will open up a new shipping lane through Russia to the North Pole and the Alaskan Bering Sea. This sudden change in shipping routes will entail huge economic costs on shippers across that channel, and worse for those who aren’t on Shiply and the likes, even for those looking for work in the industry.
The problem is that there is no scientific consensus as to whether the Arctic is indeed warming rapidly enough to pose a threat to the stability of the Earth system or if it is simply undergoing a natural phase of climate change. This is why the National Academy of Sciences study does not provide any evidence of the existence of human-induced climate change. On the other hand, the melting of the Arctic permafrost is said to be the result of warming air temperatures in the region. In reality, the melting of the permafrost is also being caused by global warming, and the Arctic and global warming are linked inextricably.
As global warming accelerates and continues to intensify, more areas of the Earth’s surface will become uninhabitable for human beings. However, the Arctic regions will not become uninhabitable for humans for as long as they live on Earth. Even in the face of the current accelerating rate of Arctic warming, there is still a good chance that the Arctic can retain its arctic climate and be habitable for human beings for many more years. The Arctic is not going to be permanently ice free in the summer, but the Arctic is still going to experience warmer periods throughout the year, with occasional ice-free summers.
Arctic researchers have also pointed out that in addition to being capable of sustaining human life for many years, the Arctic is also very rich in fossil fuels, so the Arctic region is still very much an attractive investment opportunity. as, well. If the Earth’s temperatures are allowed to increase for an extended period of time, then the price of fossil fuels will shoot up, forcing the world’s oil suppliers to raise prices. In the face of this situation, the Arctic region presents an enormous opportunity for a major oil and gas company.
However, Arctic research is not entirely encouraging for anyone who thinks the Arctic is facing imminent collapse. As already discussed in previous articles on this website, the scientific evidence does not support the conclusion that the Arctic is on the verge of a major disaster. However, there are several reasons to think that the Arctic and global warming are linked and that there is a strong possibility that the Arctic could experience an accelerated rate of change that could threaten the stability of the Earth system.