While climate change effects our planet in many ways, melting icecaps may be our most serious problem. As global temperatures heat up, ice begins to melt into the ocean, causing rising sea levels and habitat loss for many species. Furthermore, because ice is highly reflective and capable of reducing the effects of incoming solar radiation, melting creates a positive warming feedback loop.
Not to dwell on the negative today, but we have another problem. According to a recent article
published by the New York Times
, a new study has linked Arctic melting with the release of POPs (persistent organic pollutants) into the atmosphere. Remember all of those harmful chemicals we banned 10 years ago? Well, they’ve come back to haunt us! Potentially released POPs include banned pesticides, such as DTD, lindane, and chlordane, all of which are known to have detrimental effects on people and the environment, Treehugger
But why does it matter if toxins are released in some distant Arctic realm? Unfortunately, POPs are known to travel briskly in air and water currents and can easily build up in both human and animal body fat. Today, a rise in certain POPs has been detected by air monitoring stations in Canada and Norway, indicating remobilization is already underway.
Although it may be under the shadow of other, more serious, climate change-related problems, the release of toxins associated with Arctic melting is yet another reason why we must advocate for reduced greenhouse gas emissions. If we can decelerate Arctic melting, we will be saving more than just polar bears.