By Brian Merchant, Source: TreeHugger

Arctic-bound oil companies like Shell and Gazprom are probably going to speed the melt of sea ice even faster than previously anticipated—that’s ice, I remind you, that’s already rapidly shrinking from the effects global warming.

Yes, we may behold the first Arctic-free summer in just four years, but the oil, gas and shipping companies planning to exploit the region are slated to make everything even worse.

Reuters reports:

Local pollution in the Arctic from shipping and oil and gas industries, which have expanded in the region due to a thawing of sea ice caused by global warming, could further accelerate that thaw, experts say.The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) said there was an urgent need to calculate risks of local pollutants such as soot, or “black carbon”, in the Arctic. Soot darkens ice, making it soak up more of the sun’s heat and quickening a melt.

So it’s not just a warming climate that’s beating back the ice floes; it’s the soot generated from myriad industrial operations in the region. Of course, as the ice melts, more and more of those industries will set up shop in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, etc, and spew more and more soot onto the embattled ice.

Good thing then, that whenever the U.N. says there’s an “urgent need” to do something, world leaders rush to attention.