Can We Stop the Polar Ice Caps From Melting?

can-stop-polar-ice-caps-melting Credit: Matthew Schoenfelder/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

Whether or not humankind can keep the polar ice caps from melting is a subject of great debate in which both side cite scientific studies that support their positions. The bulk of scientific and environmental organizations, however, believe that humans can slow or even halt the melting of polar ice caps and global warming by reducing the use of fossil fuels and other man-made chemicals.

Melting polar ice caps are considered by some to be a product of global warming. According to, global warming is caused by the greenhouse effect, which results from Earth's atmosphere trapping the heat that radiates from the ground. This is thought to cause the planet's temperature to rise, changing climates around the globe.

Water vapor, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane and chlorofluorocarbons are gases produced by both natural and man-made processes that contribute to the greenhouse effect. Humans increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere through deforestation, land use changes and burning fossil fuels; they also add to the amount of naturally occurring methane through agriculture and the decomposition of waste in landfills. Nitrous oxide is a byproduct of agriculture, fossil fuel combustion, nitric acid production and biomass burning. All chlorofluorocarbons are produced by industry.

Critics contend that the increase in global temperatures is a purely natural phenomenon and that the planet has undergone periods of dramatic heating and cooling throughout its existence. They point to contracting and recovering ice caps as proof. Many of these scientist are or were formerly employed by organizations that endorse the theory of man-made global warming.