Andrea Lynn, Writer
Andrea Lynn, Writer

It's 90 Seconds to Midnight

On Jan. 24, 2023 the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the hands of the Doomsday Clock forward. The advancing of the clock to 90 seconds before midnight was due in no small part to the ongoing war in Ukraine. According to the board's announcement, the war has eroded international norms and the collective cooperation that is necessary to respond to global issues including significantly, climate change. 

 

The Arctic is inextricably tied to Europe’s ongoing moral dilemma as it considers what is at stake to maintain energy security. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is pushing nations’ Paris Agreement commitments behind keeping their citizens safe, warm, and fed. Countries that were dependent on Russian oil and gas have been forced to seek other suppliers, leading to more global investments in natural gas and the granting of more licenses for oil and gas exploration in the Arctic. 

 

The Arctic is melting due to increased anthropogenic activities and the narwhal's sonic habitat is being quickly transformed. Narwhals are highly adapted soniferous Arctic cetaceans that dwell in the waters and beneath the ice in one of the world’s most dynamic and extreme environments. Narwhals are dependent on sound as their principal sense. Like many cetaceans they rely on sound to learn and thrive in their environments. This includes communication, navigation, foraging, reproduction, and predator avoidance. 

 

Science is helping to explain how noise provokes physiological and behavioral changes in marine mammals, responses similar to those evidenced in humans. We all store sense-driven memories. Time gives us the opportunity to learn and adapt, to store such memories. Marine mammals, including narwhals, do this, too. The challenge is that we’re running out of time.

 

LISTEN TO THE MELTING ARCTIC 

The natural sounds of melting glaciers and sea ice are incredibly loud. This recording is of natural sounds below rafting ice floes at 79°41.36' N.