Insights · July 14th, 2008

Afer a long and icy winter in many parts of the world, especially in the U.S., and now that we are in mid-summer, what is happening with ice caps? Both the north and south poles are considered important as indicators of the future direction of the planet as related to global warming, since heat accumulates at a faster rate at the poles. Here is some recent news.

Current satellite images show the Wilkens ice sheet in the Antarctic nearing a full detachment from an island to which it has been connected. The images are similar to recent partial collapses of the Larsen A and Larsen B ice shelves. Most interesting, the current collapse is happening in the Anarctic winter, which makes it unsual.

Commenting on the phenomenon at the European Space Agency web site, Prof. David Vaughan of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) said: “Wilkins Ice Shelf is the most recent in a long, and growing, list of ice shelves on the Antarctic Peninsula that are responding to the rapid warming that has occurred in this area over the last fifty years.”

He went on to say,

Current events are showing that we were being too conservative, when we made the prediction in the early 1990s that Wilkins Ice Shelf would be lost within thirty years – the truth is it is going more quickly than we guessed.”

At the other end of the planet, the North Pole, the summer melt is underway, and the most recent data from the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center is that the melt level at this time is similar to that of 2007, when the greatest melt recorded took place. This has caused estimates of when the Artic might be ice free to be moved from 2040 to as early as 2012.

These developments are not really so surprising, given trends of recent years.

Here is Seattle this week a confernce will convene of climate change skeptics, who will argue that either the observed ice pack melting is not really happening, or, if it is, it is of no consquence. My thinking is that it is smarter to behave as though it matters, and do what we can to slow accumulation of green house gases, just as we buy insurance against personal accidents. It would be smart, as any insurance agent will tell you, to purchase this insurance sooner rather than later.

Glen Hiemstra is a futurist speaker, consultant, blogger, internet TV show host and founder of To arrange for a speech contact

Environment & Energy
Nikolas Badminton – Chief Futurist

Nikolas Badminton

Nikolas is the Chief Futurist of the Futurist Think Tank. He is world-renowned futurist speaker, a Fellow of The RSA, and has worked with over 300 of the world’s most impactful companies to establish strategic foresight capabilities, identify trends shaping our world, help anticipate unforeseen risks, and design equitable futures for all. In his new book – ‘Facing Our Futures’ – he challenges short-term thinking and provides executives and organizations with the foundations for futures design and the tools to ignite curiosity, create a framework for futures exploration, and shift their mindset from what is to WHAT IF…

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