Arctic Ecosystem Under Threat

by Julian on Mars 13, 2018 - 6:12pm

In his article “How disappearing sea ice has put Arctic ecosystem under threat”, Robin McKie warns that over two million square kilometres of midwinter sea ice have melted in less than forty years. Global warming, caused by excessive carbon emissions from cars and factories, is the main cause of sea ice loss. This deterioration of the Arctic natural ecosystem is seriously endangering many species like seals, fish, polar bears, foxes, and wolves since according to the marine ecologist Tom Brown, the Arctic food chain depends on a stable sea ice platform to survive. For instance, polar bears need a platform of sea ice to hunt freely and communities of wolves and foxes also require that land of ice in order to interact with each other.  However, Tom Brown alerts that the erosion of sea ice is even more pernicious; it targets directly the root of the Arctic ecosystem. The surface of sea ice provides algae, the most primitive element of the food chain on which all other Arctic animals depend. Then, algae is eaten by zooplankton which are eaten by fish which are consumed by seals which are in turn eaten by polar bears. Brown logically concludes that if the amount of algae available is reduced by loss of sea ice, the whole food chain will suffer consequently. Besides the depletion of the Arctic food chain, many experts have examined how specific species are affected by global warming and the reduction of sea ice. For example, the narwhal usually hides in sea ice to avoid its predator, the killer whale. Having less protection, it could become endangered. Communities of wolves and foxes use the sea ice to crossbreed. Unfortunately, the decline of ice coverage can isolate them by  keeping them away from each other. The list of endangered species goes on, but the consensus from the experts is clear: sea ice loss is affecting Arctic animals on both land and in the ocean.


There is not much to say when we examine the disastrous impact of our gas emission on the Arctic wildlife. It always goes back to a decrease in consumption and an increase in environmental awareness (which this article does promote). McKie did not urge the government, communities, and individuals to take specific actions to prevent the melting of the Arctic ice banks. Instead, he chose to call on various experts to explain how multiples species are imperiled in the face of the degradation of their ecosystems. By doing so, he spread awareness to his readers self-absorbed by their own concerns. What a wise decision because “awareness is the greatest agent for change.”


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