Future of Arctic Ice – New Data

Future of Arctic Ice – New Data

August 31st, 2008 | Posted in Art & Society, Environment & Energy

Among the interesting policy positions of the new Vice President nominee designate of the Republican Party, Sarah Palin, is that global warming, if it exists, is not related to human activity, and that polar bears are in no danger in the Arctic and thus do not need endangered species designation. As a futurist speaker, I hear these same positions echoed after each of my talks in which I mention global warming, if I include that topic. One or more people will come up to me after the speech and ask if I am aware that the whole idea of global warming is a plot on the part of some who want more government control, or that other planets are warming just as much, or that melting arctic ice is just a natural cycle, or more recently that whatever warming had been happening came to an end a decade ago according to data from NOAA (though one can search the NOAA site for hours and not find reference to such data).

Two stories caught my attention yesterday that add to this discussion. First, apparently as the 2008 summer Artic melt seasons nears its end, for the first time in 125,000 years the ice has retreated sufficiently on all boundaries that an ice-free passage is open an all sides.

Compare these photos:
Arctic Ice 1979 NASA Photo

Arctic Ice 2008 showing open water

Second, the ice has retreated so far from the coast line in some areas, more than 400 miles, that polar bears have been observed, as their immediate ice flow disintegrates, beginning a swim of 400 miles toward the retreating sea ice rather than 60 miles south toward Alaska. They do this according to instinct, as the ice is their summer home and hunting platform. Bears generally have not been known to survive swims of more than 100 miles, so these particular bears are probably swimming to their deaths.

The end of August report on the extent of Arctic sea ice will be available soon, and so far the year 2008 is shaping up to be a least the 2nd worst year in record keeping history, after 2007.

The prospect of a national office holder who ignores scientific data is of concern, though this would not be new.

Glen Hiemstra is a futurist speaker, consultant, blogger, internet TV show host and founder of Futurist.com. To arrange for a speech contact Futurist.com.

About Glen Hiemstra

Glen Hiemstra is the founder and owner of Futurist.com. An internationally respected expert on future trends, long-range planning and creating the preferred future, Glen has advised professional, business, and governmental organizations for two decades.


  1. Glen Hiemstra   |   Sep 3, 2009

    Dan, thanks for the comment. There is pretty good evidence that we are, via the emission of green house gases, boosting what may indeed be a normal global cycle. I’d prefer we let nature takes its course and try to stay out of it as much as possible – therefore reduce our emissions and plan for adaptations.

  2. Dan   |   Aug 31, 2009

    I don’t claim to be an expert on climate changes but what if the warming is just part of the Earth’s cycles? it’s been shown that the Earth has gone through numerous major and mini ice ages during warming and cooling periods. I do believe that man’s industrial revolution help make it worst but probably not significant enough to cause irresversible damage. Life on earth will continue to adapt and evolve to the changes. it’s a dynamic world. it’s a good idea to conserve as much of the natural resources and keep environment at it’s natural state as possible–simply because we don’t understand well enough the ecologies around the world and how living things are affected by our evolving technologies. but too much regulation can also impede progress. I know our time here on Earth is insignificant compared to the Earth’s age and countless other life forms that have died off due to mass extinctions. but I believe in our species as survivors. whatever happens, we will adapt. if someday Earth can no longer support life, the remaining survivors may migrate to another habitable planet. I believe close to 400 planets have already been found, but so far none yet habitable like Earth. Researchers are also looking into the viability of living on the moon.