Because of polar ice melting the poles are darker than before. This means the ocean there absorbs more sunlight and warms much faster than when it was covered with ice. The effects in terms of economics (although caring about the economy in this context borders the perverse) is estimated to be $60 trillion over the next 10 years.
10 degrees warmer than usual?
The enormity of the poles losing their white reflective cover will never sink into the consciousness of the average human. Compare it to taking your straw hat off in the sahara, the heat is now on and there is no break on warming. Water is a great absorber of solar heat, and now that the water is exposed the suns rays simply sink into it and accumulate their energy. Before the ice and snow’s abledo (reflexive effect) beamed heat back into space, one of the reasons the poles where so cold.
Imbeciles will think of clathrate as a resource to be exploited. Sane people will see it as a grave threat to be kept where it is.
The consequences of this positive feedback loop are immense. It’s not $60 trillion in economic damage. It is the hard to reverse (although reversable) disappearance of our oxygenated atmosphere and general survivability of all life on Earth. Whoever digs into our planets past knows that oceans warmed considerably several times, and every time it killed all life in it except the most basic, bacterial, usually also with devestating effects even for whatever lived on land, due to rotting (H2S) gasses escaping from the ocean.
An added factor is the release of gasses from the ocean bottom as it warms, immense amounts of methane are stored as clathrate ice in the cold deep ocean. These gasses are escaping as the ice melts, and adding to the greenhouse effect of our atmosphere.
A total polar melt will cause our extinction
There are solutions to these problems, one of them is not to start shipping through the polar routes, although it saves fuel, one should ask the question : Why am I shipping something at all? Most things can be made locally. The shipping is to expand the fossil fuel based economy, why do that while we could focus on making life easy where we are. We don’t use the solar potential, which is about 1400 times bigger than our fossil supply, because the people benefitting from fossil fuels are forcing us to useit, through the application of economic theory. Most production still depends on fossil fuels, and credit has to buy that fuel, so our money locks us into the (fossil fuel) economy. The burning economy’s dominance is slowly eroded by renewables, but it needs to move a lot faster and in a different way if we want to see concerted action agains more polar ice loss. Surviving is one of those things that require effort.