Last night saw the final instalment of Frozen Planet air on BBC One here in the UK.
This final episode has caused controversy across the world because of its moving visualisation of the rising temperatures of the North and South Poles – and what this means for everyone and everything on our planet.
More than eight million of us tuned in to see Sir David Attenborough deliver a sobering message that we should not and cannot ignore: the temperature of our planet is increasing year-on-year and global warming is a reality that we must address.
The US has recently announced that it will air the documentary, which will be narrated by Alec Baldwin and is due to air in the US next March. But for those countries where the Frozen Planet series will not be screened, here’s what you missed:
Frozen Planet showed us how…
The polar ice is melting as a result of the warming of our planet, and how this melting further fuels global warming. The melted, warm water absorbs sunlight – rather than reflecting it back into space like the white ice sheet – and in turn melts more of the ice. The aerial photos below demonstrate that between 1980 and 2010, 30 per cent of the ice has melted away.
Sir David claims that with a melt-rate such as this and one that is continuing to increase every year, the North Pole could be open water by as soon as 2020.
So what does this mean?
This melting sea-ice firstly affects those that live in the Poles. For polar animals and arctic peoples, hunting is becoming more difficult due to large breaks in the sea-ice that are difficult to cross. The habitants of the Poles are not familiar with these new ice-breaks as they are appearing larger and in new places every spring as a result of the warming of our planet. So for new-born polar bear cubs that have been in hibernation for almost six months, a lack of food due to the inability of their mother to cross the ice could be fatal.
Ironically, one noted beneficiary of the melting sea-ice are oil refineries – the source of one of the three dirty fossil fuels, which contribute towards global warming. The melting ice makes extracting the oil that lies under the Poles much easier as there is less solid ice to dig through. As a result, many countries are laying claim to this oil.
More generally, the warming of the planet affects each of us individually. As readers of A Rush of Green will know, the environment is a key theme of this blog. I have suggested many ways of how we can combat global warming, including “techno-fixing” – innovative ways to cool the planet including absorbing plankton and growing artificial trees.
However, after reading a great blog on the Mail Online this week by newspaper science journalist Michael Hanlon, I think the future of our planet rests on extensive research and development, in order to begin to combat global warming.
One very first, simple step would be to remove this barrier to entry and screen this documentary across the world – so everyone has the opportunity to see for themselves the problems that are facing our planet. After all, it’s just as much my home as it is someone’s in Russia or the Middle East. This to me constitutes research. Frozen Planet has the ability to educate the masses. The next step would then be development, which can only come out of in-depth education and research.