Jack talks about… The Arctic!

 

Meeting the Brain Train Kids

Next month, Thinkofmagic Studios officially launches The Brain Train app, and we’re sooooo excited! We can’t wait to introduce the Brain Train kids and their two special pets!

 

In fact, we really can’t wait.

 

That’s why we’re introducing the characters over the next few weeks where we’ll be taking a closer look at some of their loves and passions. You’ll find out about Gracie’s love for animals, Chester’s hiking tips, Norman’s sweet tooth and Ruby’s views on gender equality - among many other things.  

 

But first up, it’s wildlife enthusiast Jack! Jack is best friends with Chester and loves anything exciting or dangerous! But among his many interests – other than riding roller coasters, bungee jumping, playing football and climbing trees -- is his passion for the environment.

 

What is the Arctic?

With an area covering over 5 million square miles (nearly twice the size of Australia), the Arctic is huge. There are all sorts of different landscapes and environments, including mountains, tundra, coastal wetlands, rivers, pack ice, and the sea itself. The Arctic supports all sorts of animals, too -- something Jack loves. Many of these animals aren’t found in any other region on Earth, and are perfectly adapted to life on the frozen ice!   

 

Where is the Arctic?

The Arctic is the northernmost region of planet Earth. It is actually a frozen sea (Arctic Ocean) surrounded by land, such as Russia, Canada and Finland -- all areas easily accessed by the gang’s beloved Brain Train!

 

Most scientists agree the Arctic is the region directly above the Arctic Circle (an imaginary line that circles the North Pole). There is continuous daylight above the Arctic Circle in the summer, but during the winter the sun doesn’t rise at all. Amazingly, due to the way the Earth rotates on its axis, if you lived right on the North Pole you would experience just one sunrise and one sunset during the entire year!

 

How cold is it?

Er, pretty cold! Although it’s relatively mild in the summer (averaging a balmy 0 degrees Celsius!), in winter it can get as low as -40! The lowest recorded temperature? A brain-freezing -68 degrees Celsius!

 

So, what is Jack worried about?

In short, Jack’s worried about the Arctic disappearing. Due to global warming, the polar ice is melting, vastly altering the landscape and creating problems for the creatures that live there.

 

In fact, the temperature is increasing at twice the rate of anywhere else in the world. The release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels and an increase in carbon dioxide emissions has had a dramatic effect on global climate.

 

Who’s to blame?

It’s us. Humans. There’s just way too much scientific proof to argue against it:

 

“Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities.” -- NASA (climate.nasa.gov)

 

And it’s not just the melting ice caps we have to worry about. Human activity has also resulted in Arctic waters being more acidic than they used to be. This has harmed zooplankton species like pterapods (transparent sea snails and sea slugs which are important to the food chain), as well as corals and shellfish.

 

Sounds pretty bad…

It is. But it doesn’t stop there. The other problem that concerns Jack is that the Arctic isn’t just rich in natural beauty and wildlife. It’s also rich with minerals and fossil fuels; the very things that caused global warming in the first place. With so much oil, gas, gold and other natural resources up for grabs, companies are keen to drill, mine and potentially harm the Arctic in order to make lots of money.

 

Industrial accidents can be devastating for the polar environment. Oil slicks in particular are seriously dangerous. They can kill thousands of birds, fish and other marine life in one spillage.

 

Mining is another problem. It produces billions of gallons of toxic waste, destroying vital habitats and ecosystems, and negatively impacting local people and fishing communities around the Arctic.

 

Industrial development can also cause life-threatening levels of ocean noise pollution -- plus there’s even been an increase in traffic! With less ice around, more ships are travelling through the Arctic than ever before. This means greater risks of wrecks, oil spills, noise and even more pollution.

 

Jack’s concern for wildlife

Polar bears are one of the species that are facing an uncertain future. These huge carnivores -- the largest land hunters in the world -- rely on the sea being frozen to get around. They roam for miles looking for their favourite meal, which are seals. Without the ice to stalk their prey, the bears cannot hunt effectively. Pouncing on seals as they rest on the ice is one thing; pursuing them underwater is something completely different. Polar bears are competent swimmers, but no match for an agile seal. As a result, in places where the sheet ice has melted, these magnificent predators are suffering, and their numbers are going down. There are now less than 31,000 polar bears left in the wild. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), they are officially ‘vulnerable’, meaning they are at a high risk of extinction.

 

What does the future hold?

The Arctic is changing before our very eyes. Melting ice and rising temperatures are directly affecting the four million people who live in the region and devastating wildlife and ecosystems.  

 

According to the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme, the rate at which the Arctic is melting has actually been underestimated. They predict the Arctic Ocean could be entirely free of ice by the year 2040. That’s in just over 20 years’ time...

 

What can we do to help?

Jack is passionate about the issues facing the Arctic. Check out these websites to find out more, or to learn how you can make a difference!

 

https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/what-we-do/arctic/

http://www.arcticdeclaration.org

https://www.savethearctic.org/en/get-involved/

https://www.worldwildlife.org/places/arctic

http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/where_we_work/arctic/what_we_do/climate/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/places/Arctic

https://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/

https://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/

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