Will the last remaining Canadian ice shelf collapse wake us up about global warming?

Canadian Arctic has been getting hotter by the day and that has cost the world Canada’s last fully intact ice shelf, called the Milne Ice Shelf in the northern Canadian territory of Nunavut.

Up until last week, I had never heard anything about this Milne Ice Shelf until I came across a tweet from the Canadian Ice Service informing the world of a huge section of the ice shelf’s collapse into the Arctic Ocean. Over the next two days, the ice shelf reduced by 40 per cent and last Friday, it finally completely collapsed.

The collapse of this ice shelf also meant losing the epishelf lake, northern hemisphere’s last known freshwater lake dammed in by the ice shelf while floating on top of ocean water.

When an ice shelf collapses, the glaciers and ice sheets flow quicker in to the ocean, raising the sea levels faster. Such rise in sea levels can have dramatic and devastating effects like inland flooding, erosion, soil contamination, destruction of coastal habitats.

Elsewhere in Italy’s Aosta Valley, the Mont Blanc glacier is at risk of collapsing and residents have been told to evacuate from their homes after the Fondazione Montagne Sicura (Safe Mountains Foundation) announced that 500,000 cubic meters of ice could possibly slide off the Planpincieux glacier in the Grandes Jorasses park.

The wildfires that began at the beginning of this year in Russia’s Siberian Taiga forests, have destroyed 19 million hectares which is bigger than the area of Greece according to Green Peace.

Then there are the Australian wildfires and the burning of the Amazon rainforest that has had the world in grips this year.

Like a lot of things I write about in here, these places are a long ways away from us, and yet they affect us. How? Simple answer is Global Warming. However, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of this.

At the beginning of the pandemic, everyone was talking about how the lockdown was a boon for the planet, with animals roaming around freely, skies clearing up of the air pollution, making it seem like the lockdown would solve the global warming issues. Now that’s definitely the world we all want to live in, right? Clear skies, fresh air, healthier living. Alas, the damage we have caused the earth cannot be reversed in a mere matter of months and a lockdown is not a permanent solution but there are some lessons to be learned in there.

The lockdown has definitely taught us that daily commute for work is unnecessary. Reducing the number of vehicles on the road itself can play a major role in reducing green house gases emission. Reducing and eliminating single-use plastics, single-use masks, gloves, etc., can also help reduce the pressure on the planet substantially. Using less bath water, washing clothes in cold water, leaving a smaller digital footprint, are all the different ways in which we can contribute.

More than anything however, being open to learning new things, adapting new ways of living, instead of an “I have always done it this way” attitude, can open many doors to healthier living, for us as well as our planet.

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