I’m here in the Arctic to bear witness to the sea ice minimum. This is the moment in which the Arctic sea ice shrinks to its smallest size each year before expanding out again – a key indicator of the health of the Arctic.
This year it was the second smallest ever, following the pattern of recent years: the Arctic is shrinking more and more. We only have a few more decades with it at most, less than the rest of my lifetime, if we continue on as we are. This felt entirely too believable as we sailed through open ocean where there was once thick ice.
Exploiting the melting ice
I struggled even to understand the scale of the loss, but what I did quickly realise was that people are already trying to exploit these newly revealed swathes of ocean, with destructive fishing and other industrial activities.
It feels like a double blow to me that people want to double down on the damage that has been done, and it would be a massive tragedy if nothing was done to protect these areas. That’s the least humanity can do after chipping away at the protection that the Arctic sea ice once offered.
From the Arctic to Bangladesh: what happens here affects the whole world
When on the deck of the ship Arctic Sunrise, totally isolated from the rest of the world and staring out across the sea of ice that is forming and melting constantly, it’s difficult to remember that the slow destruction of the Arctic is affecting people on the other side of the planet as their homes are slowly submerged by melting glaciers. One of the many injustices of climate breakdown is that often the people who have contributed least to it are the ones who are hurt by it the most. The Global North has created this issue, and are already in the process of palming off the cost and the pain to people in the Global South.