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Something terrifying is happening at the North Pole

Writing about climate change presents an interesting challenge.

It’s a slow, constant process. Global temperatures rise a little every year, bit by bit accruing disastrous consequences. We get used to hearing that this year, like many years in recent memory, will be the hottest on record. That glaciers are melting. That food insecurity is increasing. That more and more people face climate-induced natural disasters.

As with any slow-moving (on human timescales) tragedy, it’s difficult to sustain the degree of attention and horror that each new development deserves.

But then you see something like this:


That’s a photo of a Swedish icebreaker sitting in open water at the North Pole, published about two weeks ago. (I first saw it retweeted on weather writer Eric Holthaus’s Twitter account.)

Let’s put that in context. The North Pole has been entirely covered in ice, including during the summer, for thousands of years. That was still the case when I graduated from high school, and I’m 24.

But a few years ago, predictions that our warming climate would cook the Arctic ice cap until it melted came true. Photos of a lake near the North Pole went briefly viral, then quickly faded


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