Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development

The Time Bomb at the Top of the World

October 20, 2020

By Mario Molina & Durwood Zaelke

People all over the world are already losing their homes and livelihoods to deadly fires, floods, storms, and other disasters. With scientists now expecting the Arctic Ocean to be almost ice-free in late summer, far worse could be yet to come.

It is hard to imagine more devastating effects of climate change than the fires that have been raging in California, Oregon, and Washington, or the procession of hurricanes that have approached – and, at times, ravaged – the Gulf Coast. There have also been deadly heat waves in India, Pakistan, and Europe, and devastating flooding in Southeast Asia. But there is far worse ahead, with one risk, in particular, so great that it alone threatens humanity itself: the rapid depletion of Arctic sea ice.

Recalling an Alfred Hitchcock movie, this climate “bomb” – which, at a certain point, could more than double the rate of global warming – has a timer that is being watched with growing anxiety. Each September, the extent of Arctic sea ice reaches its lowest level, before the lengthening darkness and falling temperatures cause it to begin to expand again. At this point, scientists compare its extent to previous years.

The results should frighten us all. 

Read more at https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/arctic-sea-ice-depletion-short-lived-climate-pollutants-by-mario-molina-and-durwood-zaelke-2020-10

Originally published by Project Syndicate, 16 October 2020.