The Challenge of a Free Arctic

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“The whole idea was to build up a world that was sustainable,” he says. “It was going to be a lot of work, but we’re all so excited that we got to do this.”

It’s hard to believe that in 2017 it’s possible to live in a world of global warming, ocean acidification and rising sea levels, without having to take extreme measures to reduce our carbon footprint.

The challenge: to do the world’s best to cut carbon emissions as quickly as possible over as many years as possible to meet the goals of the Paris (COP21) Agreement.

The challenge is also to do this without causing more damage than we can reasonably repair.

It’s a great problem to begin solving. But if we fail to do so, we risk the biggest global challenge we’ve faced in our lifetimes.

“If we fail,” says Dr. David Keith, an expert who runs the Australian Climate Science Communications Office, “our civilisation will be thrown back 10,000 years.”

This is not a prediction, but an assessment of the scale of the problem. In the worst case scenario, he says, there are between 30 and 50 metres sea level rise during this century. “By 2100 we could be dealing with an ice-free Arctic. And I know some of the scientists I work with are a bit more pessimistic, but I really think we could be facing a sea level rise of 50 metres.”

Image: A view of the South Pole from the International Space Station. The ISS is heading to orbit around the planet in the next few years

I have to ask: What’s an ice-free Arctic?

I’ve heard him speak, but I’ve never seen him before. His face is so lined

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