You’re playing your Wii in your air conditioned living room, when all of a sudden you hear a giant CRACK! You rush outside to find your house floating away on an island of ice. All around you other pieces of ice are breaking off and washing away into the sea!
You jolt up in bed and breathe a sigh of relief, realizing it was just a dream. You look outside to see your mom’s SUV warming up in the driveway while she walks the dog. Downstairs, your little brother is blasting the TV and your dad is cooking breakfast. Everything appears to be totally normal.
But for animals living in the Arctic, the idea of having their homes melt away is more than just a nightmare.
The Arctic, that place waaay up at the North Pole, will be one of the first places to show the effects of climate change and it’ll be intense . In fact it’s already happening, and it’s only going to get worse.
Scientists predict global warming in the Arctic will be TWO to THREE times greater than in the rest of the world. That’s bad news for polar bears and other snow-loving Arctic animals that need those chilly temperatures.
When ice floes arctic animals depend on start to melt and break up, even animals like polar bears get stuck out at sea and can actually drown. Even Michael Phelps would have trouble up in today’s Arctic!
Climate change might also mean that polar bears’ food sources become harder to track down, causing many of these burly beasts to starve to death.
Animals like Yeti, one of our Snowy Owls, are also normally found in the Great White North. Snowy Owls are master adapters and live in both extreme winter and summer conditions. They’re better equipped for temperature change than polar bears, but climate change is still causing them some major headaches, forcing them to find new habitats, and migrate greater distances.
When animals like these pack up and head for new ground it can also spell trouble for the people living up north that depend on them to keep whole food webs in balance.
So what can you do? The Arctic may be seem to be half way across the world, but with climate change, more than any other issue, the actions we take locally can have an impact globally.
When we use gas and oil while driving or idling cars, and generating the electricity for watching TV, and leaving our computers and lights on, we’re producing more and more of the gases that cause global warming. The more energy we burn, the faster we bring on climate change. The most important thing we can do to help is CONSERVE energy.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Turn down the heat in winter, and throw on some extra blankets and comfy socks.
- In the summer, instead of blasting the air conditioning, open up the windows and let a breeze in. If it’s a really sunny day, try closing the curtains or blinds!
- Convince your parents to switch to energy efficient light bulbs.
- Turn off all appliances and power bars at night and when things aren’t in use.
- Walk, bike or carpool to school instead of using the car.