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Inuit Figures

Map showing the effect of climate change on Arctic sea ice from 1979 to 2005.



key idea
Today, the Arctic and its wildlife are threatened by climate change.

A serious problem facing the Inuit and other people throughout the world today is climate change. Although the Arctic may seem like an unchanging, frozen place, the region and its wildlife are actually quite fragile and sensitive to human activities.

In recent years, Earth’s polar ice caps and permafrost have been melting at an alarming rate. Scientists have shown that carbon dioxide produced by the burning of fossil fuels like gasoline is causing the sun’s rays to become trapped in the earth’s atmosphere, raising the temperature of the planet. Other types of pollution, such as oil spills and toxic chemical emissions, are slowly poisoning many fish and birds and the animals (including humans) that eat them.

We humans often act as though what happens to other living things or to our environment cannot affect us. But we are part of a natural web, or ecosystem, in which humans, animals, plants, and the rest of nature all depend on each other for survival. The Inuit’s outlook on life reminds us all to respect nature and recognize our duty to protect it. Only by working with other people across the globe can we save the Arctic and its wildlife, and other ecosystems worldwide.

April 2007