[Final] Long Distance Problems, or how the melting Arctic affects far more people we think

Today, it seems that news we hear about the environment is always concerning the local/ national climate. So here in Canada, the news is primarily about the arctic and its rapid deterioration, or what Canada does about it in the international stage (Kyoto Protocol, etc). This results in an apathy and disinterest for foreign environmental topics. For example, a farmer in the middle of Kansas would not have much concern for the the melting polar ice caps compared to a Canadian or northern European. Unfortunately just like the economy, what ever happens in the other side of the world, will eventually affect the other.

Events happening as far the Arctic can have a profound effect on places far from it. Going back to the example of the farmer in Kansas, he right now along with much of North America is suffering from the effects of a severe drought which is theorized by scientists as being prolonged by the melting of the arctic ice caps. As snow coverage in the Arctic diminishes especially in the summer months this apparently has detrimental effects to climate south of it.

Northern Hemisphere snow coverage during the summer months between 1967-2012

The scientists theorizes that as a result of fewer and fewer snow cover in the arctic during the summer months results in more heat being retained, which in turn results in a dramatically altered jet stream which leads to midsummer weather patterns in the middle latitudes to continue longer than expected. As a result weather in the fall is much warmer and drier than usual.The hypothesis is still to be fully proven by scientists for they they are still debating whether the warming in the arctic is caused by humans or is natural, but based on the evidence so far both the drought and the warming of the arctic have shown some link between each other.

Besides affecting North American climate, the melting of the Arctic ice has also been theorized to have extreme consequences in Europe. As a result of the melting ice, the jet stream is slowed and as a result weather conditions tend to linger, leading to far more extreme ranges of temperature, which in Europe’s case is longer more colder winters. Whenever Arctic sea ice levels are low, Northern Europe in particular suffers from severe winters like in 2007 and 2011.

In the age of globalization, one must learn about what is happening beyond his/her local domain. This can be done by reading/watching/listening to more international news, while at the same time the media should give more coverage . The apathy for non-local(national) environmental problems is something that should be eliminated, for long distance problems have a way of finding a way to affect those far from it.

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