When I was small and elementary school earth science lessons were the most I knew about geology, weather patterns, global warming and climate change, teachers sometimes mentioned scientists’ ideas about the possible distant future of the solar system. I remember one picture in a kids’ science magazine that showed the Sun grown huge and red, going supernova and swallowing the planets. No matter what the predicted disaster might be, we were always assured that it was very far in the future. It would happen long after we had kids and they had kids and THEY had kids, certainly long after anybody who was alive today would be dead.
It isn’t quite the world ending, but when I saw this article, originally written by Sara Goudarzi for LiveScience.com, I remembered those old assurances, and I reflected that the future is getting closer.
If the predictions made in that article are correct, Arctic summers of completely melted ice could be upon us by 2040. Using the same computer model, the scientists predicted that 2040’s winter ice could shrink to three feet from its current 12 feet. According to Goudarzi’s article, previous predictions about Arctic meltdown set the date for watery summers at 2105 and 2060. Now, that date is creeping 20 more years closer.
In 2040, I’ll be 56 years old. Far from being a great-grandmother, I won’t even have reached traditional retirement age. If all goes well, I’ll still be tapping away at the keyboard, cell phone propped on my shoulder, as I take down notes from telephone interviews with scientists. Maybe I’ll even be covering the story of the melted Arctic summers.
Goudarzi notes that the scientists say that reductions in greenhouse gas emissions could postpone the meltdown. Perhaps increased environmental awareness on the part of citizens and lawmakers will reduce our greenhouse gas production and cool down the Arctic for a few more years. Perhaps the computer models are too pessimistic and the ice won’t melt so quickly after all.
Whatever the eventual truth of the matter, the dire prediction is already made. Doesn’t it make you wonder what else science will bring us within the course of our lifetimes? Not to mention, what will happen to the polar bears?