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."
Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past
Church of England threatens to cease BP and Shell investments over climate concerns
Animal Extinction - the greatest threat to mankind
Organic farming can feed the world if done right, scientists claim
Prince William attacks China over 'ignorant craving' for ivory
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company offers London's best photo booth ...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers ...
£50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an incredible opportunity for a ...
£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Administrator is requir...