By Dustin Niles
Layout & Design Editor
Climate change is a huge crisis that affects all of us, but we always put it in the back of our heads because the effects don’t seem immediately catastrophic. However, there are a few events happening right now that are massively influenced by climate change.
One example is an event that made the front page of The New York Times website on Feb. 7. It’s a 100-mile long crack in an ice shelf in Antarctica.
The Larson C ice shelf, which is a third of a mile thick, has a crack in it that has grown 17 miles longer in the last two months. At its widest point, the gap is around two miles wide and just 20 miles away from the edge of the ice shelf. The research team monitoring the crack expects the shelf to break very soon.
When it does, it will create “one of the largest icebergs ever recorded,” according to The New York Times, and allow glaciers on the land part of Antarctica to move towards the ocean. “Scientists see the impending Larsen C collapse as a warning that much larger amounts of ice in West Antarctica could be vulnerable.”
In January, three sets of data released by NOAA, NASA and the British government all confirmed that 2016 was the hottest year on record, and it was the third year in a row that broke the previous record for the hottest year ever.
NASA found that between 2013 and 2016, the Earth’s average temperature rose half a degree in Fahrenheit, which is also the largest temperature increase over a three-year period since their records began in 1880. very soon.
NOAA has only recorded one other instance of Earth’s temperature rising three years in a row, and those years are 1939, 1940 and 1941. 1941 now ranks as the 37th-warmest year on their record. Of the 17 hottest years on record, 16 have come since 2000, according to The New York Times. All this data is just that – data. Where are the real effects? Ask Shaktoolik, Alaska.
“With its proximity to the Arctic, Alaska is warming about twice as fast as the rest of the United States,” wrote Erica Goode, a reporter for the New York Times.
Shaktoolik is one of 31 Alaskan towns identified by the government to become inhabitable by 2050. Villages have the choice of either sticking their ground or moving, up to a $200 million proposition according to The New York Times. The mayor of Shaktoolik, Eugene Asicksik, said the village will “stay and defend.”
The process of moving can take a long time, and residents need to figure out ways to maintain education, secure shelter and medical care. However, according to The Times, governments have such little interest in investing in these towns that they are even considering breaking everything down and moving elsewhere. The government even refused to fund a road that would have served as an evacuation route and a route to move materials to a new home when Shaktoolik once considered moving to a new location.
These practical effects of climate change ought to be met with governmental action to slow the effects of climate change, if only for the purpose of protecting their citizens.
The government holds a multitude of different types of public land, including the National Park system. Alaska, the state that holds Shaktoolik, is one of the most contended for states. An economically barren state, Alaska holds some of the U.S.’s most potent oil reserves but also contains 15 national parks, preserves, monuments and historic parks, according to the National Park Service.
So while the battle for the climate may be fought in the extreme north and south of the planet, the casualties are certainly in the present.