START A PETITION 25,136,189 members: the world's largest community for good
START A PETITION
x

Invasive Species More Likely Now That Polar Ice Is Melting

Invasive Species More Likely Now That Polar Ice Is Melting

Supposing that the melting Arctic ice isn’t causing sea levels to rise… supposing that it’s not displacing polar bears and other mammals… supposing that it’s not putting the world’s fresh water supply at risk… supposing all of those reasons were neither valid nor a cause for concern, now there’s fear that invasive species will spread into foreign ecosystems due to this rapidly melting ice.

With two-million-year-old ice blockades now out of the way, a pair of new shipping routes have opened. The Northwest Passage goes through Canada, while the Northern Sea Route connects the Bering Sea and Barents Sea from Russia all the way to Norway. As the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center worries, these passageways are leaving ecosystems vulnerable to outside organisms taking over.

Introducing new life forms into other ecosystems is a volatile situation. Precedent has shown us that a new species can take over a stable environment and ravage other species that have lived in an area for centuries. See “5 Terrible Lessons Learned from Invasive Species” for some real world examples.

Meanwhile, the shipping industry has already begun looking at the melting ice as a moneymaking opportunity rather than an environmental disaster waiting to happen. Cutting through Arctic seas has never been faster and easier.

Looking forward, these ship passages will likely open new industries. Cruises and other sea-based tourism in the area are becoming increasingly more practical without polar ice. And while the Arctic has already been exploited for natural gas, having easier access to these resources will only boost the industry.

In other words, we should expect to see barges transporting people, cargo – and yes – invasive organisms between these melted expressways frequently. Scientists are already predicting that ship traffic will increase by 20% each year.

Although passage between newly available areas was previously uncommon, it also wasn’t unheard of. The longer routes did help to prevent invasive species from spreading, however, as these organisms were less like to survive the lengthy trips. The shorter voyages – made possible by reduced glacier obstacles — give foreign organisms a much better chance of reaching the destination.

It’s not just marine life that’s at risk, either, as land creatures are similarly in jeopardy. Species like insects can stowaway on boats and cause trouble in a new ecosystem.

Greg Ruiz, one of the authors of the research, is optimistic that catastrophe can be prevented. “The good news is that the Arctic ecosystem is still relatively intact and has had low exposure to invasions until now,” he said. “This novel corridor is only just opening. Now is the time to advance effective management options that prevent a boom in invasions and minimize their ecological, economic, and health impacts.”

Is that realistic, though? Isn’t the corporate approach of pursuing immediate profit, consequences be damned, the catalyst for this environmental crisis? Expecting that shipping companies and international legislators will make responsible choices to avoid wrecking ecosystems seems pretty naïve.

Read more: , , , , , ,

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it

135 comments

+ add your own
12:04PM PDT on Jun 9, 2014

Thanks for posting.

7:55PM PDT on Jun 7, 2014

Combat climate change for the cost of a cup of coffee: Stop 1000 tons of CO2 emissions by saving acres of rainforest for a few dollars: https://www.rainforesttrust.org/acres-for-50cents/

1:30PM PDT on Jun 7, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

12:41PM PDT on Jun 7, 2014

"Invasive Species More Likely Now That Polar Ice Is Melting"

...not to mention all the extra carbon, trapped in the methane under the ice. that will go into our atmosphere!

5:29AM PDT on Jun 6, 2014

ty

8:54AM PDT on Jun 4, 2014

Thanks

8:52AM PDT on Jun 4, 2014

BY ALL MEANS, LET'S CRAP UP THIS LAST PRISTINE AREA ON THE PLANET ...

Human "intervention" has already successfully crapped up just about everything on, above and below the earth, why not finish it off?


7:56AM PDT on Jun 4, 2014

Thank you. It helps us all keep the bigger picture that financial interests cloud.

2:42AM PDT on Jun 4, 2014

Interesting article, thanks for sharing.

1:26PM PDT on Jun 3, 2014

Obvious progression.

add your comment



Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

ads keep care2 free

Recent Comments from Causes

Poor little fellow. HIs chances are probably very slim. With only 200 left is seems a shame to not…

i cannot understand why someone that do not want a playful puppy gets one... my first dog, who lived…

Thanks to remind us the greatness of all these people who care for others.

Story idea? Want to blog? Contact the editors!
ads keep care2 free

more from causes

Animal Welfare

Causes Canada

Causes UK

Children

Civil Rights

Education

Endangered Wildlife

Environment & Wildlife

Global Development

Global Warming

Health Policy

Human Rights

LGBT rights

Politics

Real Food

Trailblazers For Good

Women's Rights




Select names from your address book   |   Help
   

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.