A Labour Member of Parliament is moved by the melting of Antarctic ice and the impact it has on her father’s legacy.
When Anna McMorrin MP went to the Antarctic as part of a government investigation, she came across a document in the Rothera Research Station library that was written by her polar researcher father in 1962.
The Larsen ice shelf, a stunning expanse of thousands of miles covered in dense, white, crystalline snow, has nearly disappeared due to melting.
Seeing the change in Antarctica firsthand has made her even more aware of the need to act quickly to slow down climate change. This is necessary to avoid reaching a critical point where ocean currents and weather patterns are disrupted, ultimately leading to catastrophic consequences for humanity.
She stated that the Larsen ice shelf has completely melted and vanished into the ocean. This ice had been present for thousands of years, but has disappeared in just a few decades.
This journey was significant as it allowed us to examine the evolving Antarctic and its effects on the global environment. The melting glaciers have major consequences on ocean temperatures, currents, biodiversity, and weather patterns. It is crucial to understand that the changes in Antarctica have a ripple effect beyond its borders.
McMorrin, the Member of Parliament for Cardiff North representing the Labour party, traveled to the Falkland Islands in late December. She had the opportunity to join a British Antarctic Survey ship, which is a vessel dedicated to scientific research and named after Sir David Attenborough.
Upon arrival, she discovered a remarkable landmass that has been completely cut off from the rest of the globe. This continent boasts unparalleled biodiversity, 24 hours of daylight during its summer season, and intense winds that can swiftly transform into wild storms.
Her expedition will feed into the recently launched UK and the Antarctic environment inquiry by the environmental audit sub-committee on polar research, which will look at how British scientific research and climate policy can slow climate breakdown in the Antarctic. The inquiry will soon hold a series of evidence sessions in parliament before publishing a report later in the year.
McMorrin found the trip particularly emotional because her father, Ian McMorrin, worked for the British Antarctic Survey. During his career, he surveyed and mapped the landscape, and he even has a glacier named after him.
However, McMorrin, who used to be an advocate for the environment and advised on climate change in the Welsh government, was just as affected by what she didn’t witness as she was by what she did. She noted, “The transformations that have occurred in the past 60 years are striking. Glaciers are receding by significant distances, hundreds of meters.”
She maintains that comprehending the underlying factors contributing to this issue is crucial, as it has the potential to greatly affect the Earth’s climate. This can range from floods in the UK to shifts in weather patterns that have led to record-high global temperatures and devastating forest fires.
A recent report revealed that Greenland’s ice sheet is melting at a rate of 30 million tonnes per hour, which is 20% higher than previous estimates, due to the impact of the climate emergency.
According to McMorrin, the current situation is getting worse at an increasing rate and the concerning aspect is that we are unsure of the point where we will no longer be able to reverse it. The best course of action is to make significant reductions in carbon emissions, stay committed to achieving net-zero emissions, prioritize renewable energy sources, work together as a global community, and fulfill our carbon reduction promises.
She hopes to convey to the public that this doesn’t have to be seen as a sacrifice. Instead, it can bring about positive change, create new job opportunities, and lead to a better future for everyone. Ultimately, it can improve the overall quality of life and also result in financial gain as it is an investment in our economy, according to her.
She also desires for the general public to be aware that supporting the Labour party in the upcoming general election is the most effective means of addressing climate change.
McMorrin stated that the Labour party has a plan to address this issue. They are committed to transforming industries and implementing measures to reduce carbon emissions.
“I am uncertain if the Conservatives comprehend the gravity of their situation. Rishi Sunak’s actions last September regressed the progress towards achieving net zero and delayed the set targets. This does not reflect someone who is optimistic about the future of net zero, but rather someone who views it as a challenge.”