In 30 years we've lost 75% of the Arctic sea ice

Feature Story - 13 February, 2012
If there's one fact to remember which underlines the urgency in protecting the Arctic it's this: in 30 years we've lost 75 per cent of the Arctic sea ice.

That ice is not only a pristine environment supporting threatened species like the polar bear - it also supports us. By reflecting the suns rays back into space, the Arctic ice acts as the world's air conditioner, cooling our planet down. This in turn underpins our agricultural systems which when shaken, push millions over into hunger and worse.

The Arctic ice is a life supporter, but we're destroying it. 

Our obsession with dirty energy has melted three quarters of that ice in a little over three decades.

Here's BBC Newsnight explaining the 75% figure:

Some people compare Arctic sea ice amount by looking at the surface area of the ice and calculating how much it contracts by. But if you want to know how much of the ice is actually left, you’ve got to look at the volume - which is both the area and the thickness of the ice. That’s when you get these jaw-dropping figures of how much we’ve already lost.

In 1979, at its lowest point, there was 16,855 cubic kilometres of Arctic sea ice. In 2011 that had dropped to 4,017 - a little over a quarter of that original figure.

But the real shocker is this: rather than sit up and slap ourselves into rapid action to protect the Arctic, the world is allowing oil companies to rush in and exploit the newly melted waters.

Companies like Shell and others are desperate to extract the "vast oil reserves" under that melting ice - even though all the oil in the Arctic will only fuel the world for three years. Three years.

It's an insanity that we have to stop and we will stop.

Let's make sure 2012 is remembered as the year we drew a line in the ice.

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