Warning over melting ice at North Pole
Sir David Attenborough has warned that there will be "open water at the North Pole in summer within the next few decades" if the current rate of global warming is allowed to continue.
In his bleakest comments yet on the fate of our warming planet, the veteran naturalist, who visited the pole for the first time last year, said that the consequences of melting sea ice would be dire for wildlife and humanity alike.
Writing in the Radio Times on the eve of the United Nations Climate Conference in South Africa, Sir David said the implications of Arctic meltwater disrupting the flow of ocean currents which maintain global climate were "hard to overstate".
"The meltwaters from Greenland's glaciers alone could cause a rise in global sea levels of up to half a metre by the end of this century," he said. The BBC's Frozen Planet team, filming at both poles for the documentary series, witnessed the melting not just of sea ice but also of freshwater, glacial ice, Sir David added.
In the Antarctic, the Cook Glacier, where the 85-year-old naturalist first filmed in 1988, had retreated by 400m. "It is the change to the permanent ice that fringes the coasts of Antarctica that is likely to have the most dramatic effects of all," Attenborough said.
If warming leads the Antarctic ice shelves to collapse, "vast quantities of land ice and meltwater will slide into the sea and cause a major rise in sea levels around the globe", he said. "When that will happen and by how much are difficult questions. But with over half of the human population living near the coast, the answers may be only too devastating."
From the blogs
A slight deviation from style this week and admittedly a bit weird, but at least I can finally say I...
Owen Howells is a DJ/producer who grew up in Australia but was born in the UK. He came back to the U...
Justice, the bedrock of our society is for sale under the Government’s latest plan to sell legal aid...
Take inspiration from the green-fingered brigade who have been showing off their creativity at the R...
- 1 What, let gays get married? We must be bonkers
- 2 Rocky Horror star Tim Curry 'suffers major stroke'
- 3 Exclusive: How MI5 blackmails British Muslims
- 4 Lord of the Sings: Sir Christopher Lee, 91, to release heavy metal album
- 5 Exclusive: Woolwich killings suspect Michael Adebolajo was inspired by cleric banned from UK after urging followers to behead enemies of Islam
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.