Arctic sea ice extent reaches record low - Greenpeace responds

Press release - 19 September, 2012
New York, 19th September 2012 – Scientists from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) today released preliminary figures suggesting that Arctic sea ice has reached the lowest recorded extent since records began in 1979. The data indicates that on September 16th Arctic ice extent covered 3.41 m km2 - a drop of at least 45% since records began.

Today Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo addressed a special event in New York alongside 350.org founder Bill McKibben to call for a coordinated international response to the Polar crisis. Responding to the news from New York, Naidoo said:

“Today's announcement represents a defining moment in human history. In just over 30 years we have altered the way our planet looks from space, and soon the North Pole may be completely ice free in summer.

“Rather than dealing with the root causes of climate change the current response from our leaders is to watch the ice melt and then divide up the spoils."   

“I hope that future generations will mark this day as a turning point, when a new spirit of global cooperation emerged to tackle the huge challenges we face. We must work together to protect the Arctic from the effects of climate change and unchecked corporate greed. This is now the defining environmental battle of our era.”

Naidoo recently returned from the Russian Arctic where he interrupted drilling operations by climbing aboard a Gazprom oil platform. (1)

Dr. Julienne Stroeve, a research scientist at the NSIDC, is currently aboard a Greenpeace ship in Svalbard, Norway in the Arctic having just returned from conducting scientific research into the region’s record breaking ice melt. She said:

“This new record suggests the Arctic may have entered a new climate era, where a combination of thinner ice together with warmer air and ocean temperatures result in more ice loss each summer.”

“The loss of summer sea ice has led to unusual warming of the Arctic atmosphere, that in turn impacts weather patterns in the Northern Hemisphere, that can result in persistent extreme weather such as droughts, heat waves and flooding.”

Bill McKibben said:

“There’s no place on Earth where we see the essential irony of our moment playing out more perfectly than in the Arctic. Our response has not been alarm, or panic, or a sense of emergency. It has been: ‘Let’s go up there and drill for oil’. There is no more perfect indictment of our failure to get to grips with the greatest problem we’ve ever faced.”

Greenpeace is calling for the creation of a sanctuary in the uninhabited area around the North Pole and a ban on unsustainable industrial activity in the remainder of the Arctic.

Since June 2012 more than 1.8 million people have joined Greenpeace’s Save the Arctic campaign (savethearctic.org), and the group intends to place an “Arctic Scroll” carrying these names on the seabed beneath the North Pole early next year as an act of opposition to corporate interest in the region.

For a full briefing on sea ice loss in the Arctic click here

ENDS

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NOTES:

(1) http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/press/releases/Greenpeace-International-head-boards-Gazprom-Arctic-oil-platform/

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