One of the seminal articles on climate change – “Climate Code Red” – by David Spratt and Philip Sutton in late 2007 showed a graph of arctic ice melt, which in September 2007 had reached the lowest extent recorded. Extrapolating the trend line back in 2007 led to there being no ice in the Arctic by perhaps as early as 2015.
Fast forward five years to 2012, and as September approaches its clear that we are quickly approaching the time when the Arctic will be ice free. The Climate Code Red blog outlines this.
The graph below, extracted from this blog, shows just how quickly the volume of sea ice in the Arctic is disappearing, with the red line being 2012. Note how every year the line moves closer to zero and the huge loss in volume compared with the 1979 to 2000 average (grey line at top).
Meanwhile, as the ice shrinks, emissions grow. At www.co2now.org a graph shows the current atmospheric levels of CO2 – and how it is continuing to go up at a record rate.
These two graphs show the disconnect between what is happening to the world’s climate and the action being taken to reduce emissions. Yes, the actions of many of us have probably very slightly slowed the rate of growth in emissions, but not nearly enough.
So what will happen when the Arctic is ice free?
Will this event be a call to much more urgent action that is heeded – by all of us – or not?