Updated: Jun 14, 2022
The trend seems unstoppable and the point of no return very close. But something can be done, or better must be done. Summer ice loss, permafrost defrosting, ice sheet melting continue to affect both Arctic and Antarctic regions, two ice ecosystems which the survival of the whole Planet depends on. The two-day Scientific Symposium: “The Cold is Getting Hot”, held at the Oceanographic Museum on the 24th and the 25th February 2022, left a meaningful and positive ‘frozen footprint’ within the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Develpment. The Prince Albert II Foundation, the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, the International Arctic Science Committee, in collaboration with the Oceanographic Institute – Prince Albert I of Monaco Foundation, promoted the event.
A panel of experienced scientific researchers together with practitioners and new generation scientists met in Monaco to exchange ideas and debate on how to implement a common approach to contain the effects of the changes currently affecting the environment of Polar Regions. Despite their entirely different essence, a thick ice formation over the ocean at the North Pole and a rocky continent covered with thick ice at the South Pole, the effects of climate change are evident in both cases. And human beings are favouring an acceleration of a potential global disaster. Polar fauna and flora are primarily in danger as well as local communities but their freeriding effects can be fatal in every corner of Planet Earth. Will different species adapt to such a change? Antarctic ice sheet constant disintegration, for example, can raise sea levels by approx. 3.3 meters worldwide, upsetting the social and economic global order.
Will different species adapt to such a change?
Four main sessions took stock of the situation under different perspectives: 1. Understanding Polar Changes; 2. Contribution of Polar Changes to Global Climate; 3. Effects of Polar Changes upon Global Human Societies & Economies and 4. Management Responses in the Face of Uncertainties. Impacts on biodiversity and food chain; climate change; Blue economy; decision maker’s commitments to encourage assessing and mitigating actions have been the main topics of the meeting with a consistent in-person participation. A speechless short film with an evocative title: ‘Collapse!’ by Luc Jacquet, plunged the audience in the devastating polar situation. “I believe that words are powerless to describe the disruptions that are taking place in the polar regions that are so precious to us all”. These are the salient words stated by the most popular film maker, director of the March of the Penguins (2005).
“We are all aware of the situations of both Polar Regions and about the consequences that affect the Planet as a whole as for climate, biodiversity and for our societies where we live”, H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco
“I believe this is a moment of particular importance since we are making every efforts to relate both to the Arctic and the Antarctic at the same time through an overlapping view; the extent these two issues are intertwined make it possible to examine them simultaneously on a scientific point of view as well as a political one in order to find the best solutions; the moment is also crucial because it brings together a diversity of expertise”, pointed out H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco in his key note introductory speech “We are all aware of the situations of both Polar Regions and about the consequences that affect the Planet as a whole as for climate, biodiversity and for our societies where we live”, He added. The Prince also recalled the necessity to subject massive exploitations of hydrocarbons and other main resources to an international moratorium. Besides that, the drastic reduction (or deletion) of dependence on fossil-energy-sources must be pursued. That can be achieved through concrete actions like the creation of new Marine Protected Areas in Polar regions with special regard to the Antarctic. Unfortunately, selfishness and economic calculations are often blocking those objectives. Thus, the symposium aimed at pushing global opinion and decision makers to think differently.
“Ice is a habitat and not just frozen water" (Prof. Antje Boetius)
“Ice is a habitat and not just frozen water, it is the place where animals live starting from the marine mammals”, highlighted Prof. Antje Boetius, Director of the Alfred Wegener Institute, “What we have discussed in the last two days is the consequence of global warming affecting terrestrial Poles with a double or triple speed comparing to other regions”, she added.Ice is considered as the major indicator to test the planetary health. “In the Antarctic, the situation is starting to worry us since satellite date shows that ice is thinning rapidly around the great Thwaites Glacier which could accelerate defrosting of other key areas” stressed Prof. Jane Francis, Director of the British Antarctic Survey. We must consider, in fact, that Antarctic icing include 70% of the global freshwater. Its total dissolution would make oceans’ levels 50 meters higher. A total disaster! A series of relevant international science projects supported by the international cooperation are working hard to put in place a massive action to monitor pivotal glaciers and the interaction between ice sheets and the ocean. That will tell us more about our future and the hazardous effects produced by possible further emissions of carbon dioxide because of ice thawing.
"Today it is a great commitment to address properly the fund raising and storytelling is essential to bring parties together", Frederik Paulsen, businessman and philanthropist
“Scientists need someone to represent them and today it is a great commitment to address properly the fund raising and storytelling is essential to bring parties together”, underlined Frederik Paulsen, Swedish businessman and philanthropist, in the Closing Session. “There is an enormous willingness among individuals, foundations and cooperation to come up with the necessary funding but you need to understand how to do it through due interlocutors…and as for Russian scientists it is crucial to keep communication with them as much as possible”, he added. “Of course, we need science but together with indigenous knowledgeto understand the microlevel of changeof any ecosystem. So, how can we innovate not only in terms of science but also regarding the information flow? I think that we should try to answer this in order to make sure that the audience has the power to understand both the risks and solutions we need to act upon” Gail Whiteman, Professor of Sustainability, University of Exeter Business School, Executive Director at Arctic Basecamp.
This Symposium laid the foundations of a new interdisciplinary one-community approach to better respond to Polar change through concrete adaptation and mitigation initiatives. The Cold is Getting Hot is the most important message addressed directly to societies, economies and the private sector around the world to improve sustainability and increase the awareness of possible threats and be prepared consequently. “This is just an open door to what we must do from nowon, to define a plan and find the right partners to move on in order to push this topic on the international agenda on the basis of the impressive insights collected in these two days across the two Poles, disciplines, people, cultures and also generations”, concluded Olivier Wenden, Vice-President of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. All sciences raised their voice to be heard at the highest levels within the UN debate on Ocean’s preservation. ***
To know more about Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation please visit: https://www.fpa2.org/
Article by Maurice Abbati