United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon travelled to Antarctica on Friday for a first hand look at the effects of global warming on the polar ice cap.
He was briefed on how human activities, such as deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels, have led to higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
These higher levels are thought to be the reason for a large hole in the ozone layer over southern Chile and Antarctica that has led to the increasing rise in world temperatures since the 1970s.
During the 20th century, the Earth's average temperature rose by about one degree fahrenheit.
"The world is changing. We are feeling this impact of global warming already," Ban said.
"I have made this climate change issue one of my top priorities of my tenure as Secretary-General. This is not for me, not for the United Nations. This is for the entire world," he added.
Experts believe that over the next century that rise could be more in the range of two to six degrees, speeding up the melting of the polar ice caps and causing major flooding of coastal lowlands, as well as changes in climate and crop production.
Ban spent the day at the Antarctic bases of Chile, Korea, and Uruguay, and also visited the Collins Glaciers of King George's island.
His visit to Antarctica is considered an important commitment on behalf of the United Nations in preparation for the forthcoming Climate Change Conference to be held in Bali, Indonesia, next month.