An aerial view of floating ice in the Arctic Ocean
The Arctic is now experiencing several “never before” events, with dramatic, human impacts on the planet’s ecosystem, according to a new report.
While the Arctic is supposed to be a climate-regulating system, the analysis warns that over the last 30 years it has warmed three times faster (at a rate of 0.81C per decade) than the global average (0.23C).
The new report from the Climate Crisis Advisory Group (CCAG) calls the Arctic a “ground zero” for “cascading climate impacts across the planet”, warning that the rapid warming and melting there is likely a “major trigger” for disastrous changes to our weather systems.
This has been borne out in recent extreme events such as extremely severe heatwaves in the USA and Canada and flooding in Germany and China.
It was published on the day the US climate envoy John Kerry warned that “this is not the last chance for survival, but it is the last chance to minimise the damages and the changes on planet Earth”.
To discuss how best to achieve this, we welcome former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, in conversation, for this very special instalment of the Science Museum Group’s Climate Talks series, in collaboration with the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.
Speaking at a Science Museum webinar along with the former UK prime minister Tony Blair, Mr Kerry said “we have to ramp up, Tony”.
“But I am confident that we’re going to have breakthroughs that are going to help facilitate this effort,” he added.
British scientist Sir David King is chair of the CCAG, which is a new group of climate-related experts aiming to provide the science and guidance towards climate repair.
“We can manage this,” he told Sky News. “I believe we’ve got five years to set in train a whole series of a programme of work. And if we do all of that, we will have a safe future for mankind going well into the next century.”
Otherwise “we are looking at a situation in the near future that is really to too grim to to contemplate,” he said.
One of the ways to manage it involves attempting to refreeze the Arctic. Sir David along with many others are exploring the possibility of creating white cloud cover that will come over the Arctic Sea during the three months of the polar summer .
They hope this would reflect sunlight away so that the growth of ice over the Arctic sea during the previous winter is retained through the summer.
“And if we could just repeat that every year for the coming 20 or 30 years, then we might manage to create the ice cover that is needed to protect the Arctic Sea,” he told Sky News.
The report says this is just one of many solutions needed – but much of the technology needed to implement its recommended solutions already exists, but requires a “rapid political and collective response”.
It identifies a number of the Arctic’s “made in the region” solutions that work, including the observational capacity of indigenous peoples with their knowledge, adaptation solutions that “fit the shoe” and the rewilding capacity of carbon sinks.
It says the most important solution is to preserve and maintain the still existing poles of cold and habitats such as the large intact forests and tundra ecosystems, as long as possible.
Sky News has launched the first daily prime time news show dedicated to climate change.
The Daily Climate Show is broadcast at 6.30pm and 9.30pm Monday to Friday on Sky News, the Sky News website and app, on YouTube and Twitter.
Hosted by Anna Jones, it follows Sky News correspondents as they investigate how global warming is changing our landscape and how we all live our lives.
The show also highlights solutions to the crisis and how small changes can make a big difference.