When I read the newspapers yesterday one particular headline in the Independent seemed especially poignant “Cracking up: the ice shelf as big as Northern Ireland”. Scientists have discovered the Wilkins ice shelf on the coast of Antarctica is in great danger of breaking away from the mainland; and it’s as big as Northern Ireland!
The peninsula is the fastest-warming region in the Antarctic and has seen some of the largest temperature rises on earth – 0.5C per decade. Ice shelves in Canada’s far north have shrunk by as much as 90% since 1906, and six others have retreated in the past few years. This really does highlight the way in which climate change needs to be emphasized on a daily basis.
This news comes nearly three years after an ice shelf bigger than Manhattan broke off an island in the Canadian Arctic in August 2005, underlining the fact that climate change should be more of a potent issue in society today (Click here to read the story) What needs to be stressed though is that the sheer enormity of an event such as a melting ice shelf means many people can’t associate using energy in their homes, or the way they travel as being a significant part of the problem.
I want to emphasize just how important it is everyone understands that simple changes to our behaviour can make a big difference. For example, just boiling enough water needed to make a cup of tea, not leaving a mobile phone charger plugged in or turning appliances off of standby will all help to reduce the amount of energy wasted.
If everyone took these simple actions then the amount of energy saved collectively would be substantial – and we’d be helping to prevent calamitous occurrences, like the Wilkins ice shelf breaking away, whilst at the same time saving energy, saving money and ensuring a healthy future for the planet.