Image: The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska shows evidence of global warming.
Climate change is like a tipping canoe. It starts slowly and overturns suddenly in a violent upheaval. Despite the apocalyptic ring to this theory, in many ways the planet's arctic ecosystems have now reached that tipping point.
Packed ice along the Arctic Ocean and Bering Strait has retreated hundreds of miles and decreased in thickness more than 40 percent in the past 50 years. Native American villages are crumbling into the sea, and the biological heart of the Arctic that is home to populations of polar bears, caribou, migratory birds and other wildlife are caught in this dangerous recipe for disaster. Millions of acres of forests have died because of insect outbreaks caused by a warming climate, and are now burning. These troubling effects, when paired with the threat of further habitat destruction by oil and gas drilling, mean Alaska's wild places are doubly imperiled.
If we view the Arctic as any indication of the effect global warming will have on the rest of the world further south, acting on ways to limit our greenhouse gas emissions now is crucial. Unlike so many issues stymied by partisan squabbling, there is a consensus across party lines that something has to be done. Climate change is now getting more attention than ever.