It all starts in the Arctic, where, you might have heard, the glaciers are thawing! And with no extensive plan to fix this issue, we’re getting closer and closer to a hotter and hotter future. This seems to be Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s main concern at the moment and he is devising a strategy to combat this matter.
But why are the thawing glaciers so tremendously important? Because the thawing permafrost, which is what is left in the soil after the ice has melted, is filled with massive amounts of carbon dioxide. Scientists have been looking for this excess carbon dioxide at the mouth of the rivers, but they never managed to actually find it.
The link between the excess carbon dioxide from the permafrost and its absence in the rivers, where melted ice usually ends up, has been a mystery for quite some time. And yet, the culprits had been laying there, right in front of us! Unfortunately, they were too small for the human eye to see.
All this time it’s been the microbes that have been gorging up on the permafrost and have so managed to release the carbon dioxide excess into the atmosphere, by metabolizing it. This is how any excess carbon dioxide has been prevented from getting into the rivers!
And that is very bad news for us, because the extra carbon dioxide is making it hotter and hotter on Earth! And it gets worse! This entire situation is a vicious circle, because if the temperature continues to rise, then there will be more thawing ice, and therefore more permafrost. Thanks to the tiny munching microbes, there will be more and more carbon dioxide in the air, that will make it even hotter; and the cycle is complete.
So, it’s up to science to break this dangerous chain from turning Earth into one of many Sci-Fi versions of its future! “We have to capture this material as soon as it thaws because that’s where we see its unique compositional features which make it so attractive to microbes”, says Robert Spencer, Assistant Professor of Oceanography. He is the man who had led the research that identified microbes as the cause and who seems to be following up on the results, in the hope of finding a solution.
In order to avert a crisis, science must be met with political help. And Secretary of State John F. Kerry is doing just that. He points out that it is crucial for our future as a planet to unite and figure out a solution.
All of this come right on the eve of the Arctic Council meeting, an eight-nation committee held in Northern Canada. Since in 2015 the US becomes the council leader for the next two years and John Kerry its chairman, he is making his ideas known to all of those who want to contribute.
In December, more than 190 are expected to participate in a global meeting on this pressing matter. The meeting will be held in Paris and its aim is to negotiate the decrease of greenhouse gas discharge. What Kerry considers to be of very high importance and necessity is that this meeting include a forum, where people with no leadership position may get a chance to put up their findings on the matter.
He claims that there are a lot of people with less important political positions, if any, who just might be better prepared to tackle this problem then the people in charge. So Kerry believes that it is time to give a voice to everybody who wants to help. From people who want to raise awareness to scientists.
Another important situation that Kerry will have to resolve is that of Alaska. There are currently 31 villages in Alaska that are in great danger of extinction due to flooding. People stand to lose their homes all together, as temperatures go up and the ice keeps on thawing. The Alaskans see the solution in relocating, but moving an entire community is extremely complicated, mainly because of the financial reasons.
This becomes even more intricate, since the funding for disaster assistance is usually unavailable for moving villages. And this is where the Alaskans turn to Kerry! They expect him to prioritize their cause in the fund allocation and to work alongside President Obama and Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski, in order to promote the requirement of the distribution of funds towards the Arctic climate change relocation.
When assessing this situation in its entirety, it becomes almost ironic how a creature so small can have such a massive effect on the metamorphosis of the world as we know it. Moreover, single-celled organisms are the oldest known life forms on Earth. While us “young-lings” might have a tough time in the future if the temperatures continue to rise at this rate, they will live on, with or without is.
It remains to be seen if science will prevail in this battle, but the fact that the wheel has been put into motion is a very encouraging thought for all; and this is what each of us should bear in mind, when the grim idea of tomorrow comes sorrowing down on us.
Image Source: cleveland.com.com
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