Antarctica's ice sheet is melting at a rate that's becoming more and more frightening.
In new research published in the latest issues of Nature, a group of scientists report that "the melt rate has tripled in the past decade." From 2012 to 2017, Antarctica lost 219 billion tons of ice annually due to rising ocean temperatures.
Experts believe that humans may have no more than a decade to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to avoid the devastating effects of climate change.
In what's referred to as "the dire scenario," ocean waters could rise as high as half a meter by 2070.
If the temperature rises about 3.5 degrees celsius (which is considered more than catastrophic by the United Nations), the Antarctic Ocean would become inhospitable to the shelled creatures that live there, entire industries — especially fishing — would be disrupted, wildlife would die in large numbers, and it would create undoable damage to coasts and property. In fact, many places in the world are already experiencing some of these effects, along with record heat and extreme weather.
Here's the thing: We've known for a long time that the ice in and around the coldest continent on Earth has been melting faster than it should, but scientists say we have some time — even if not a lot — to change.
But experts insist that as citizens of this planet, we can and must do more.
Though there's not much that can be done about the ice that's already melted, researchers say if governments and citizens work together we can slow the effects of global warming. But it can't be something we put off until tomorrow.
Yes, the "dire scenario" is terrifying, but there's also hope.
The earth can survive many things. It has before. Instead, the question we must ask is: How long the planet will be habitable for humans and animals if we don't work harder to take care of it?
If governments continue to work together to reduce air pollution, the Antarctica that will exist in 2070 could look pretty similar to how it does right now. And without the dramatic rise in temperature, some species would still lose numbers, but others would adapt, meaning the damage would be less severe.
That's why we all need to do our part to save the planet. It's not just the only one currently fit for human life — it's our home. And the blows that climate change has already dealt should be a call to action.
Call your representatives, vote for greener initiatives in local elections, make sure that your voice is heard when climate change is discussed by the people around you. Go as green as you can, every day. Here are just a few ideas!
Your individual efforts might feel small, but our collective action could lead to huge positive consequences.