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We can’t suddenly stop climate change. The planet is too big and the system has too much inertia. So many natural processes have begun reacting to global warming that, even without additional pollution, the Arctic will warm by another 4C to 5C. The problem is the roughly 45% of permafrost that is being relabeled as ‘meltafrost’. As the permafrost melts it releases carbon dioxide as well as methane. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere lasts longer methane does, but methane’s short term impact is much higher.

“New evidence suggests that permafrost is thawing much faster than previously thought, with consequences not just for Arctic peoples and ecosystems, but for the planet as a whole because of feedback loops,”

In addition to adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, decreases in arctic sea ice are allowing the Arctic Ocean to absorb rather than reflect sunlight, accelerating the effect. Combined, the various effects in the arctic may greatly exceed our ability to counter it, especially considering that the arctic will then be a greater contributor to greenhouse gases than all of civilization. We may have already unleashed an unstoppable force. Negating climate change may no longer be an option. Adapting may be our only choice. Mitigation is necessary in either case.

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