I wanted to feedback on the The Polar Crisis meeting that I’ve just attended in New York. Why are rapid changes in the Arctic and Antactica a matter of global concern to us all? Well, to paraphrase Kumi Naidoo, International Director of Greenpeace, the poles of the Earth act as giant refrigerators keeping the planet cool and weather systems relatively benign – without them, we might just fry, or at the very least, experience devastating climate chaos. This year, we have lost 40% of the Arctic ice cap. This is totally unprecendent in the modern era. So, in no uncertain terms, the eminent speakers at this meeting told us why they are worried:
Prof. James Hansen (NASA) spoke about the ocean warming that is already happening and the severe consequences that will have, not just on marine life, but on the climate. Unbelievably, governments and multinationals across the globe are financing tar sands extraction and fracking of shale gas and at the projected rates of development in these sectors, in Hansen’s words, that means it’s game over for life as we know it. Ice shelves are disappearing and the resulting species extermination will have profound and deadly repercussions.
Caroline Cannon, representing the Indigenous people in Alaska who rely on the ocean around them to feed, clothe and support their existence, spoke of the effects of tar sands extraction and off-shore drilling on these communities. If either of these activities results in even one oil-spill their existence will be threatened. She said that in the last 4 years, contrary to lifelong tradition, the women are not now allowed to go out onto the ice to meet their husbands as they return from fishing trips, because the ice melt means that it is dangerously thin.
Prof. Maslowski (American Naval School) showed dramatic graphs of how quickly the arctic ice volume is declining and how the remaining ice is thinning. Most worryingly is the sub-sea methane which will be exposed. Methane is many-times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2 so the impacts of this methane on the atmosphere will be catastrophic.
Bill McKibben discussed how this is the first time in modern history that we have all the records of the past in such detail and in such depth of information. We know that this situation is unprecendented in its impacts. We must act now it by helping our youth to speak out for their survival!
Kumi Naidoo spoke in no uncertain terms. “Having seen what is happening first hand with oil-drilling by Gazprom in the Arctic, I am shit scared!” We are all paying the ultimate price for this resource war.”
Finally, one of the subjects least discussed but most pertinent is population growth. In the face of climate change and crop failures, how will we feed our growing population? K Subramanya (International Strategic Affairs Analyst) spoke about the incredible changes he has seen in India where migration to cities has led to mega-cities with completely unsustainable footprints. We have to change our mindset if we are to protect mother nature…
The event was sobering indeed – it seems we are heading towards the precipice like a bunch of lemmings. But there is hope. Millions of people around the world are working hard to make another world possible. We all have to join together in one voice to tell our leaders that enough is enough. We have a few MONTHS left to reverse our carbon footprint – but we need the political will. We have to Occupy Politics until they listen to us!
In our own way, APE is doing it’s bit to help. Profit from the sales of our albums goes to projects around the world that are actively working to mitigate climate change. By buying our albums, you are helping us to help them, to help you!
For the Earth – Kenny Young