It’s right around this time of year that Santa Claus is typically on the receiving end of millions of messages from kids around the world asking that this or that particular gift be left under their Christmas tree come the morning of Dec. 25.
Turning the time-honored tradition on its head, Kris Kringle—well, at least Greenpeace’s version of the folkloric figure—recently sent one bummer of a message to kids across the globe: Climate change might make future Christmases a no-go.
“Dear children,” begins Father Christmas, as played by Downton Abbey’s Jim Carter in a global warming PSA recently released by Greenpeace. “Regrettably, I bring bad tidings. For some time now, melting ice here at the North Pole has made our operations and our day-to-day life intolerable and impossible. There may be no alternative but to cancel Christmas."
Standing in a darkened cellar appearing bedraggled and downright heartbroken, Carter’s Santa says he has written to world leaders, including Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, asking for them to seriously address climate change, but he has not heard back from them. They are now on his naughty list, he says.
"My home in the Arctic is fast disappearing," Santa continues, "and unless we all act urgently, then I have to warn you of the possibility of an empty stocking forever more. Please help me."
While some in the media have called the two-minute PSA the work of global warming alarmists, the evidence is indisputably on Greenpeace’s side: Since 1983, the North Pole has warmed more than any other place on the planet.
In 2012, for example, the Arctic ice cap shrank to a record low, with only 24 percent of the Arctic Ocean covered by ice. That’s a 50 percent drop from 1979, when NASA first began monitoring the area with satellites. And while summer Arctic sea ice did increase by 50 percent from 2012 to 2013, it’s critical to remember that because of weather variability (weather patterns, ocean cycles), ice extent fluctuates, sometimes dramatically, on a year-to-year basis.
“Even if  ends up being the sixth- or seventh-lowest extent, what matters is that the 10 lowest extents recorded have happened during the last 10 years,” said Walt Meier, a glaciologist with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, in August. “The long-term trend is strongly downward.”
All the more reason to back Greenpeace’s Save the Arctic Campaign, for which this rather bah-humbug PSA was produced.
“If enough people support our campaign to protect the Arctic, then the younger generation will be able to sleep well on Christmas Eve, safe in the knowledge that Santa's home will be saved,” the group’s U.K. executive director, John Sauven, told The Daily Mail.