The folks at National Geographic have certainly had their work cut out for them lately.
When U.S. President Barack Obama unveiled his new plan to combat climate change earlier this month, he mentioned that the society has been facing a strange and somewhat depressing kind of challenge.
“Shrinking ice caps forced National Geographic to make the biggest change in its atlas since the Soviet Union broke apart,” he said during a speech at the White House.
While that’s quite a statement, it turns out it wasn’t just a bunch of rhetoric. Soon afterwards, National Geographic responded with a post titled “Yes, Mr. President, We Remade Our Atlas to Reflect Shrinking Ice.”
“He’s right. The shrinking of the Arctic ice sheet in the 10th edition of the National Geographic Atlas of the World is one of the most striking changes in the publication’s history,” the society wrote.
To show just how “striking” that change really was, they even produced a gif revealing how much the arctic ice sheet has vanished since their issue in 1999:
That’s just 15 years, people. And no matter how much damage you thought humans were doing to the environment, you probably didn’t assume it was that bad. But NASA reports that in 2015, the maximum arctic sea ice level was at its lowest on record. The media is also constantly reporting on various global-warming related issues, so it would seem that we just needed a visual aid to show us how bad things are really becoming.
Unfortunately, we can only assume the problem will get worse, as steadily rising ocean temperatures are locking arctic ice into a downward spiral that will prove very difficult to reverse. And when all that ice melts, ocean levels rise, threatening the roughly seven million Canadians who live in coastal areas and depend on the water’s resources.
But whatever, it’s just some melting ice, right?