Polar sea ice. What does it mean to you? Vast areas of white, white, white, never-ending? Cold temperatures and a blinding wind? A home for polar bears in the north and penguins in the south?
Polar sea ice caps our planet, top and bottom. It keeps the water at the poles cold. When it is cold at the poles and warm at the equator – you have the perfect engine to move water around the planet. These currents oxygenate the water and allow aquatic life to flourish. These currents shape our weather. These currents are vitally important to life on Earth, both in the ocean and on the land.
So if the poles warm up, what happens to the currents? What happens to the level of oxygen in the water? What happens to the health of the oceans? What happens to the weather?
It all changes.
So what is happening anyway with our poles? Are they really warming up as fast as some are saying? Is the sea ice melting? Can the sea ice freeze up again?
Well, there is news out today that the Arctic sea ice is set to break some records. It could be lower this year than it has ever been in over 7,000 years. It is set to break the previous record set in 2007.
Meanwhile, the animals suffer.
There is news today that chinstrap penguins in Antarctica are starving, as their diet of krill has been diminished. Krill populations have decreased up to 80% since the 1970s in some areas, associated with the continual decline in sea ice.
There is also news out today that king crabs are now moving into the Antarctic, as they can survive in the warming waters. The flora and fauna of this ecosystem are very fragile, and not accustomed to this new predator. The sediment of the ocean floor is changing, as the king crabs eat and forage what was previously left behind. Certain local species are going extinct.
Meanwhile in the north, polar bears continue to lose their hunting grounds, as they depend on the ice to hunt seal. They also have to swim further and further between ice floes, sometimes they drown.
It is all changing.
How much of this is our fault? How much of this is my fault, me personally? If one million penguins die, or one thousand polar bears, what is my contribution to that? If another horrible storm hits, and people die or are displaced by the wreckage, how much of that is due to the choices I have made in my life?
Some of it is my fault. I know it is.
What can I do? How do we collectively start taking climate change seriously? What will it take? When will we realize that we only have this one Earth to live?
Inaction or action? Bystander or change maker? Consumer or creator? What path will I take? How will I live this life?
Well I plan on taking part in 350.org’s Moving Planet: a day to move beyond fossil fuels. There are events going on all over the world, and I want to be part of this global day of action. I want to stand up. I want to be that someone who did something, whose voice was counted.
I want to march.
I plan to take my kids, scooter, tricycle and all. Here in Edmonton, we are going to meet at the abandoned Esso station on Whyte Ave at 11:00 am and walk, cycle or run to the Alberta Legislature building, along with everyone else who wants a clean, green future for their children. Let’s do it for those penguins and polar bears as well.
Who will join me?