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The end appears to be inevitable.
May 12, 2014 11:44 PM   Subscribe

Warm water is eating away at the bases of West Antarctic glaciers in an irreversible runaway process: West Antarctic Glacier Loss Appears Unstoppable [the damn paper (paywalled)]

The paper's authors present their findings:
NASA Antarctic Ice News media teleconference
Graphics for the presentation

Background to the report: The 'Unstable' West Antarctic Ice Sheet: A Primer
A brief (42-second) video showing accelerating glacier flows in West Antarctica

BBC coverage: 'Nothing can stop retreat' of West Antarctic glaciers
NYT coverage: Scientists Warn of Rising Oceans From Polar Melt

The USA may already be experiencing the consequences of sea-level rises: Miami Finds Itself Ankle-Deep in Climate Change Debate
A visualisation of the consequences of different sea-level rises in the USA: What Could Disappear
posted by Joe in Australia (101 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
The lengths to which these "scientists" will go to procure yet more government funding for their blatant propagandising and catastrophising should now be evident to any truly sophisticated reader!
posted by Wolof at 11:52 PM on May 12 [12 favorites]


This isn't scientist propaganda, it's Big Levee marketing.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:58 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]


Yeah. Now is the right time to invest in Big Levee.

I'm putting all of my money into Big Levee and Florida Pontoon Houses...
posted by mr_roboto at 12:03 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Surely this...
posted by Jimbob at 12:05 AM on May 13 [5 favorites]


The stunning finale in Oolon Colluphid's trilogy of moderate sellers about the human race:
1.) You Might Want to Think About Long Term Effects
2.) You Can't Keep This Up You Know
3.) Well, You're Just About Fucked (but you still might be able to sell your orbital space off for a nice bypass)
posted by Hactar at 12:14 AM on May 13 [28 favorites]


That NYT article has an awfully grim tone. There's a bit at the end, which reads like something you'd expect to see in The Onion, except the truth is incisive for different reasons altogether. "Though he had long feared the possibility of ice-sheet collapse, when he learned of the new findings, “it shook me a little bit,” Dr. Alley said."
posted by feloniousmonk at 12:24 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


That NYT article has an awfully grim tone

It is an awfully grim event.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:28 AM on May 13 [18 favorites]


I am afraid the nutbars won't believe in climate change even when half of Miami is permanently inundated. I don't know what it will take.
posted by Justinian at 12:34 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


You could have used THE END IS EXTREMELY FUCKING NIGH tsh for shame

(also a shame about the planet i suppose, pity it was a nice place and all)
posted by Sebmojo at 1:05 AM on May 13


For Australians like Joe and I, on the cusp of a budget that is going to make Australia the first nation to take a backwards step on climate policy, this is unbearably depressing.
posted by smoke at 1:44 AM on May 13


Yes and no. I mean, I think we're basically screwed already. There will be literally hundreds of millions of climate-change refugees from places like Bangladesh. Where will they go? What happens when a wall of refugees starts marching through India? What happens when Indonesia and other littoral nations are inundated and/or find that their water table has turned salty? Australia's direct problems will be trivial in that light; we'll probably just have to put up with weird and wild weather, the loss of our beaches, and the Mallee drying up and blowing away. I will bet you an esky of genuine ice cubes that someone reinvents the Brisbane Line and we abandon the North to an endless landscape of refugee camps.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:04 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


If anyone would like access to the damn paper, please feel free to memail me with an email address I can send a PDF to and a promise not to distribute that PDF further
posted by Blasdelb at 2:04 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


...a budget that is going to make Australia the first nation to take a backwards step on climate policy...

By no means the first. I can think of two very large developed nations that have been deliberately increasing their use of fossil fuels for quite some time, and are continuing those policies today.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:44 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Big Levee and Florida Pontoon Houses

So, when is their first album coming out?
posted by eriko at 3:56 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Huh. The Maldives has an average elevation of 1.5 meters (the highest natural point is 2.4 meters). Coincidentally, this is the amount by which the oceans are expected to rise due to the melting of this part of the West Antarctic ice sheet. So we now have direct physical evidence of an unstoppable physical process that is going to wipe out a nation of nearly four hundred thousand people.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:15 AM on May 13


C'mon already, aliens.

Halp.
posted by Drexen at 4:15 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Guys, don't worry about Bangladesh. I'm sure companies like H&M will step up to the plate and assist with relocation efforts in the event of sudden unexpected sea level rise.
posted by oceanjesse at 4:26 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


But seriously, now's a good time to ensure you're getting as politically involved as you can. Vote as green as you can given tactical considerations, state and back up your opinions on the issue with those you know, and contribute what time and money you can to organised efforts to change things.

Green parties/coalitions/etc have grown to gain some real strength in places like Germany, and by extension Europe. The way I see it, ensuring that this force rises as strongly and as widely as possible is pretty much essential to having any hope of mitigating this crisis to within survivable levels.
posted by Drexen at 4:31 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Denial is the largest stream of thought in this country, sadly.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:38 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


And yet here in Canada the pipelines are rolling on... I keep thinking of a quote from a story in the New Yorker within the last few months; the story was about drug trafficking, but the idea is universal: "There's nothing in the world more powerful than money. Only God can stop [x]." So most days that's where I'm at (minus the part about God, because only human beings can act in the world even if God does exist).

That's a despairing outlook, but the news is terrible. And we just go on, every micro and macro decision, every person who gets a well-paying engineering job at the Tar Sands and her parents are thrilled, every person who finds that their trade skills are useful up in northern Alberta and they can now afford a down payment on a house: every single small decision up to the larger ones all coming in on a tidal wave of money and demand and the voices speaking against it are loud and multitudinous but the voices of the powerful are, as always, stronger. So many people in power who are my age and who don't give a shit because they only have another twenty or thirty years left anyway. So many fools, so many useful idiots spewing carbon-copied shite in the New York Times comment section-- when did expertise become unimportant, by the way? When did Science become the province of corruption rather than politics?

I'll do my part to protest against Kinder Morgan and the Northern Gateway and hope for the best. My son wants to have children. I want his children to live in a better world.
posted by jokeefe at 4:45 AM on May 13 [8 favorites]


I am afraid the nutbars won't believe in climate change even when half of Miami is permanently inundated. I don't know what it will take.

Isn't part of the climate-change denial crowd's argument that, yes, change happens, but it's a natural cycle? Basically, they don't deny change is happening, but they deny that man has any hand in it. Thus, pollute away and move the beach home a few miles inland!
posted by Thorzdad at 5:17 AM on May 13


We should get a pool going on who'll be the first to utter the words "Nobody could have predicted"

My money is on Wolf Blitzer
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 5:21 AM on May 13 [13 favorites]


My son wants to have children. I want his children to live in a better world.

You mean a better world than the one you grew up in? Or a marginally better world than the hellscape that they'll end up in?
posted by sutt at 5:23 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


I guess ignoring climate change can now be seen as a long-term jobs program, when you think of all the seawalls and refugee housing projects that are going to be built in the next couple centuries.
posted by aught at 5:39 AM on May 13


Finally. A compelling reason to move back to the Midwest.
posted by clvrmnky at 5:54 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


when you think of all the seawalls and refugee housing projects that are going to be built in the next couple centuries.

Seawalls around major, rich metropolises? Sure. Refugee housing? I'll believe it when I see it. My guess is that there will be land-locked cities building walls to keep out the refugees before there are houses built for them.
posted by sutt at 5:55 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


I am afraid the nutbars won't believe in climate change even when half of Miami is permanently inundated. I don't know what it will take.

My understanding is that the collapse of the ice sheet will take a couple hundred years, anyway. Super quick on geological scale, but pretty big on a human timescale. The nutbars will be long dead by then.
posted by heathkit at 6:01 AM on May 13


The shanties that will bloom* in the shadow of the high city walls are the "refugee housing" meant, probably.

______
*and sometimes wither in the rain.
posted by notyou at 6:07 AM on May 13


> Denial is the largest stream of thought in this country, sadly.

If you mean the US, about 25% of people are denialists. That's a lot, but not the "largest stream of thought". Here's a list of Gallup polls on the issue, for a bit of a reality check on what most people in the US actually think.

(If you didn't mean the US, apologies.)
posted by nangar at 6:10 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Regarding timelines, it's my impression (based purely on rapid scanning of the papers) that this essentially means prior estimates of 1-3 feet rise by 2100 should now be revised to 3 feet.

...look for the new denialist trend of "well, we're screwed anyway, let's use coal!"

Also, invest in automated weapons platforms. Folks are going to suddenly become very interested in systems able to blow away boats full of refugees without having to see the results themselves.

"Hey, Bob, Platform 35-7 had three intercept events last night and one so far this morning. Probably gonna need to send the supply drone, I dunno, like a day earlier or something? Check with the supply guys, see if they can move the schedule up."
posted by aramaic at 6:19 AM on May 13 [5 favorites]


Isn't part of the climate-change denial crowd's argument that, yes, change happens, but it's a natural cycle?

In the fundagelipublican crowd from whence I emerged, I hear this all the time. Just a natural cycle! And no one seems to stop and ponder what an amazing coincidence it is that this natural cycle kicked into effect just after the climatologists said human activity was about to start wreaking havoc on the planet. Seriously, what they purport to believe is this:

*Thousands of years of relatively stable climate*
Scientists: Uh oh, guys! Our chemical emissions are about to start raising the temperature of the planet in potentially catastrophic ways!
Every climatologist is wrong. Carbon dioxide is not a problem. Humans can't actually alter the climate, because Jesus. However, the temperature starts rising just as they said it would, because of a natural cycle with no apparent cause that cannot be stopped and isn't anyone's fault--a natural cycle that no scientist who studies these things understands. My pastor understands it, though. Because Jesus.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:21 AM on May 13 [7 favorites]


Well, now I don't feel so bad about my string of failed relationships and lack of children...

The world that I grew up in the late 1970's and 1980's was a beautiful one...

Any child that I bring into this world will never know such a place...

I'll just order another cup of coffee, and enjoy my pancakes and scrambled eggs.
posted by PROD_TPSL at 6:51 AM on May 13 [8 favorites]


There's a reason that this keeps reminding me of Peter Watts' books....
posted by Thistledown at 7:08 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Tide comes in, tide keeps coming in. You can't explain that.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:42 AM on May 13 [12 favorites]


I thought Peter Watts' Maelstrom contained great descriptions of what life might look like in a dysfunctional North America 50 years down the road. Not so much on the direct climate effects, but the breakdown of organized government and the widespread use of surveillance and control technology. The way that we've been able to simply ignore climate change for the last 20-odd years makes his vision seem more realistic, in that we're ignoring the breakdown of democracy more easily than I would have suspected.
posted by sneebler at 7:58 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


The paper doesn't seem to be paywalled anymore, if you're interested in reading the original source.
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:00 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Reminds me a little of a sub plot from Red Mars, where a volcano started erupting in Antarctica, under some ice sheet, leading to very rapid sea level rise.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:16 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Umm.. if the goverment mandated a roughly %10 or %20 increase in all of our energy costs .. electric bill, gas prices, food prices, etc.. a carbon tax.. would you go for it? Most wouldn't, regardless of where they stand on climate change. The problem isn't deniers, the problem is people want to blame someone else so they don't have to pay for it. I almost never see anyone in these threads pounding the table for a carbon tax. Yet that's what the best scientists are saying we have to do, all the other strategies are (quite possibly) too little too late. It will take generations to switch to a green energy economy at current rates, maybe the whole century. And it's no guarantee as they keep finding more fossil fuels cheaper than ever (fracking is latest). Carbon tax is the only way this problem will really get solved. Even the nuclear lobby is now calling for a carbon tax, they can't compete economically with natural gas from fracking, nuclear power plants may be shutting down early because of the glut of cheap natural gas.
posted by stbalbach at 8:26 AM on May 13 [5 favorites]


> Most wouldn't, regardless of where they stand on climate change.

I think a lot of people would - if it was applied equally, if everyone had to tighten their belts equally.

> I almost never see anyone in these threads pounding the table for a carbon tax.

A carbon tax implies that you are allowed to put all the CO2 you want into the atmosphere if you pay. That's not good enough. In order to not drown the planet, most of the existing reserves have to stay in the ground.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:32 AM on May 13 [5 favorites]


If I were paranoid, I'd almost think that this string of stories detailing increasingly dire predictions is designed specifically to make those of us who understand that there's something wrong with the atmosphere just give up.
posted by ob1quixote at 8:37 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Yeah. What we need is to look at the melting arctic ice and *not* say "Oh cool, now we can reach more oil." If we're committed to getting all the oil we can out of the ground, the rate we do it at is almost meaningless. What we need is to find/implement ways to make extraction so entirely obsolete that it will actually stop us from doing it. And we need to do that more or less... now. If not, you know, X decades in the past.

Chances of that happening?

Well let me drink all this here whiskey and then I'll tell you.
posted by Drexen at 8:39 AM on May 13


Good thing I brought my own bottle because fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:48 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


hey guyz guyz you got it all wrong carbon's not the problem:

Christian Post blogger Michael Bresciani writes this week that changes in the climate are indeed taking place, but not due to human activities such as fossil fuel emissions. Instead, he says extreme weather is the result of “homosexuality, abortion [and] general sexual preoccupation,” which according to Bresciani is bringing about the End Times and the coming of the Antichrist.

(via digby).
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 8:56 AM on May 13


If you mean the US, about 25% of people are denialists. That's a lot, but not the "largest stream of thought".

The really worrying thing about popular opinion is the fact that the percentage of U.S. citizens in denial is double what it was 10 or 15 years ago, while the percentage who are concerned is relatively unchanged. We've had a decade of confirmation for the claim that humans are affecting climate, and the result has been that fewer people believe that humans are affecting climate.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 8:57 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


On Cosmos a couple of weeks ago, they showed a cross-section view of the Earth in order to illustrate how it's a big ball of molten iron with a tiny skin of habitable land and a tiny skin of breathable atmosphere. It's amazing how stable our climate is considering the forces at work "above" and "below" us, and from that perspective—if you were a giant holding a softball-size Earth in the palm of your hand—our civilization wouldn't even be visible nor a sea level rise barely detectable.

Well, now we know just how narrow our parameters are. I'd happily pay a carbon tax, only because I have nieces and nephews whom I adore and don't like to imagine being forced into some kind of Road Warrioresque future where food is scarce and laws nonexistent.

I don't have much hope of any real progress though. Right wingers deny anything's happening, and the lefty hippies go straight to blaming Monsanto or vapid, detail-free plans about how solar and wind will somehow cover all our energy "needs." Our real need is a genuine run-from-Jesus moment where everybody on both sides drops all the bullshit superstitions and vague ideas and comes together. That's not gonna happen nearly fast enough, because stupid and self-centered and short-sighted.
posted by Camofrog at 8:57 AM on May 13


Yes, those darn hippies with their valid criticisms and ideas.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:59 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


I wanted to write a substantive comment here. I just can't.
posted by wuwei at 8:59 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


> most of the existing reserves have to stay in the ground.


This is the solution and it will never happen.

So is montana/lower canada the place to be?
posted by anti social order at 9:05 AM on May 13


For those wondering how big the glaciers really are, there's a nice graphic on this page here.

As well as this report on the western fields in Antarctica, there are good indications that the other side of the continent is melting too. Mengel and Levermann of Potsdam University say that the Eastern fields are also at risk to quick collapse (from sciencedaily):
East Antarctica's Wilkes Basin is like a bottle on a slant," says lead-author Matthias Mengel, "once uncorked, it empties out." The basin is the largest region of marine ice on rocky ground in East Antarctica. Currently a rim of ice at the coast holds the ice behind in place: like a cork holding back the content of a bottle. While the air over Antarctica remains cold, warming oceans can cause ice loss on the coast. Ice melting could make this relatively small cork disappear -- once lost, this would trigger a long term sea-level rise of 300-400 centimeters. "The full sea-level rise would ultimately be up to 80 times bigger than the initial melting of the ice cork," says co-author Anders Levermann.
(Mengel & Levermann, Ice plug prevents irreversible discharge from East Antarctica, nature climate change---paywalled I think. Message me and I can provide PDFs when i get home tonight.).
posted by bonehead at 9:08 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


Right wingers deny anything's happening, and the lefty hippies go straight to blaming Monsanto or vapid, detail-free plans about how solar and wind will somehow cover all our energy "needs." Our real need is a genuine run-from-Jesus moment where everybody on both sides drops all the bullshit superstitions and vague ideas and comes together. That's not gonna happen nearly fast enough, because stupid and self-centered and short-sighted.

I'm sorry, but what? I'm not exactly sure what you're advocating here. The scorn quotes around "needs" seems to suggest that you're advocating a radical reduction of energy use on the whole (which would be nice!), but for some reason I'm unclear on — a desire to use the "both sides are wrong!" trope? — you're positioning this as a centrist (or something?) position, rather than a left-hippie one. Which, well, on the one hand, you're significantly more left-hippie than solar and wind advocates, and on the other hand, you're tying this to a strangely stated anti-religious message that (for good reasons) is going to play with absolutely no one.1

What does "come together" even mean here? It seems to me that at the very least you've got severe vagueness problems of your own.

[1]: For one thing, you've pre-alienated all environmentalist Christians by pretending that the suicidally stupid anti-environmentalist stance embraced by right-wing Christian tribalists is a core feature of the religion. I mean, I'm, like, a level 5 atheist — sometimes I go all the way past atheism to total ontological nihilism — but it seems clear even to me that insulting some of our best allies in the environmentalist movement in your statement about how we should "come together" is, um, slightly daft.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:10 AM on May 13 [6 favorites]


Doc, saying "I told you so" just isn't giving me the expected sense of pleasure. Should I come in to get this looked at?
posted by RedOrGreen at 9:11 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]


The Earth shall abide.
posted by Renoroc at 9:14 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


The Earth may abide, but if Los Angeles is under five feet of seawater, the Dude can't. And an Earth without the Dude is barely an Earth at all, you know?
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:18 AM on May 13 [6 favorites]


If you mean the US, about 25% of people are denialists.

I'm not sure it's the denialists in the USA who are the root of the problem in that particular country.
posted by Wordshore at 9:22 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


The Earth shall abide.

Glib and meaningless.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:24 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


The Earth shall abide.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:26 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


So is montana/lower canada the place to be?

I'm thinking the Great Lakes region, which not-so-coincidentally has created the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Sustainable Water Resources Agreement, implemented on both sides by subsidiary agreements (eg: the Great Lakes Compact) to control water usage in the whole region.

...so they won't be shipping water to Las Vegas.

Mind you, if I suddenly became super-rich I'd probably be looking at a suitably tall rocky island with good solar exposure for my fortified enclave. Get some terraces going, solar desalination, that sort of thing. Then recline and spend my days pumping water to the terraces, cleaning the solar panels, making sure the turbine is working, painting steelwork, and so on. Yay.
posted by aramaic at 9:26 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


I'm not a big fan of the corner of Carlin's schtick where he takes bits of language that are used as subtle metaphors and treats them as if they are literal statements. Most of the time when we humans use the phrase "the Earth," we're not talking about the literal rock in space, the Earth in-and-of-itself, we're talking about the human Earth — the world of humans that, for better or for worse, we've built up on that rock. When you're 14 and you're just figuring out that some of the words we use are less literal and more metaphorical than they initially look, that sort of thing can be mind-blowing. But in a grown-up conversation, stopping everything to "reveal" how our languages are shot through with metaphor and then pretending that this is a scandal is sort of, uh, counter-productive.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:35 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


> But in a grown-up conversation, stopping everything to "reveal" how our languages are shot through with metaphor and then pretending that this is a scandal is sort of, uh, counter-productive.

I posted this in response to the comment "The Earth shall abide"...

But I think Carlin's sketch is brilliant. It brings home to people what we're doing - killing our grandchildren - rather than an abstract "destroying the planet" which most people can't buy into as too abstract.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:40 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]


Apologies — I'm a bit more jumpy/cranky/fighty than usual this morning. I think it's the combination of reading about the impending apocalypse while looking for an apartment in the Bay Area that's doing it to me... c'mon, universe, I'm just not psychologically prepared to find out that:
  1. The planet is definitely melting, and,
  2. A tiny one bedroom apartment in Oakland definitely costs 1400 dollars
in the same week.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:52 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Well, look at the bright side, in ~100 years I bet apartments in Oakland will be much cheaper (if a bit damp).
posted by Wretch729 at 9:56 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]


Part of the problem with this discussion is that the "End" isn't. Another way to look at it is that we're headed for a world that looks a lot like it looked 130K years ago, or will it be 2 million years ago, or more?

Yes, this is going to create wholesale destruction to human civilization, agriculture and every ecosystem on the planet. Having said that, many ecosystems will survive and adapt in some version (I'm an optimist, even if I think this is going to be terrible). Whether or not humans survive this transition in significant numbers probably depends a lot on whether we're able to organize and avert some of the worst effects.

We still have the option to make changes to control our CO2 emissions and avoid some of those effects. For example, here's a paper from Amory Lovins that talks about three large areas of work we need to do to move away from fossil fuels: We could do this, given the political will. Kieth Gerson's link above lays out the global political problem: how are "we" going to convince China, India and other emerging economies to not burn enormous quantities of coal in their drive to match the wealth of the northern hemisphere? How can we do that if we're not willing to regulate our own manufacturing sector?

It seems like we have everything we need to grow up and take responsibility for being the most advanced civilization on the planet, and the consumers of vast swaths of the Earth's production. How long will we wait for the motivation to act?posted by sneebler at 9:58 AM on May 13 [5 favorites]


Oh and ZeusHumms I'm glad I'm not the only one who's first thought upon reading the headline was "darn, this is going to throw off the timeline for the Martian revolution!"

Though to be pedantic the antarctic ice sheet melting happened in Green Mars.
"That's it for every beach in the world," Fort said, pulling his face back from the window. Then: "I guess we'd better go get our stuff."
posted by Wretch729 at 9:59 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Great, now you guys have reminded me of KSR's "Science in the Capitol" trilogy about climate change and how his protagonist lived in trees and creepily stalked woman kayakers and my god I will burn my eyes with a red hot poker before I ever read anything of his again.
posted by malocchio at 10:23 AM on May 13


I'm a graduate student in glaciology (I'll presumably be seeing the first two authors of the other paper on this subject at our department lunch in a couple of hours.) I have classes and meetings and whatnot most of today, but I'd be happy to answer any questions people have about the science once I get a spare few moments to do so.
posted by fermion at 10:24 AM on May 13 [11 favorites]


Starfleet HQ's gonna have basement flooding problems.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:29 AM on May 13


Malocchio: I haven't read that one, but KSR's Mars series is some of the best--if not the best--science fiction I have ever read. There's no stalking of anyone, relationships are consensual, and by god it's well written.

/derail
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:33 AM on May 13


Maybe I'm fortunate that my brain can't quite make it past "West Antarctic." How the heck do you measure "west" in Antarctica? What is it west of?
posted by rikschell at 10:46 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


A carbon tax implies that you are allowed to put all the CO2 you want into the atmosphere if you pay. That's not good enough. In order to not drown the planet, most of the existing reserves have to stay in the ground.

That's the purpose of the carbon tax. It makes fossil fuels uneconomical compared to other sources. Many fossil fuels are already uneconomical today due to the cost of retrieving them. The cost needs to be increased for the easy to get stuff. It's not complicated.
posted by stbalbach at 10:48 AM on May 13 [7 favorites]


West Antarctica looks like it's the western bit on a Euro-centric Mercator projection. (Zoom all the way out on Google maps and you'll see) I don't know for sure if that's why it's called that, but that would be my assumption.
posted by Wretch729 at 10:50 AM on May 13


fffm - Oh, I liked Red Mars well enough, but found Blue a little wanting and didn't make it to Green. I'm confident in saying that those are in a completely different class, though.
posted by malocchio at 11:26 AM on May 13


Please explain the concept of Dutch Oven to your local fundagelipublican. Thank you.
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 11:44 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


What is it west of?

The Prime Meridian---0 degrees longitude. East and west meet at the international dateline (more or less) in the Pacific.

From the POV of the south pole, looking at a globe, with the Prime Meridian at the top of the map, the east part of Antarctica is the right half (clockwise from the top). The west part is the left half, counter-clockwise around the pole from the top.

Looking at the map this way, the Thwaites glacier is about 90deg counter-clockwise down from the top, just west of the southern-most tip of South America.

In a Mercator (flat map) projection, the west is left of the PM, the east is right of the PM. This assumes the left and right map edges are roughly the international date line.

In this projection, the Thwaites glacier is on the Antarctic coast, about 1/4 of the way from the left edge.
posted by bonehead at 12:40 PM on May 13


Reversing climate change is really, really simple. One good global thermonuclear war is all it'll take. With population back below 1 billion, the regrowth of forests will pull carbon out of the atmosphere generating another little ice age, like that one we created when we accidentally depopulated the New World with smallpox.

The war will come about when the sea level rise has crested a couple feet and people start panicking/migrating en masse, modern disease controls will fail, resulting in pestilence from the usual suspects--typhoid, bubonic plague, and perhaps new and exciting epidemics that will spring fourth from the refugee camps. No more fertilizer manufacturing will mean that crop yields will plummet. Once the first nuke is fired, everyone will step back and think about what they're doing, then they'll continue doing it anyway. The remaining survivors will be surprised at first when it starts getting cold. By the time the little ice age has ended, the Earth's wobble will bring us to our next scheduled full-blown glaciation. After that one's over, we'll likely be back where we started at the end of the last ice age, but with lots of interesting artifacts lying around.
posted by mullingitover at 12:54 PM on May 13 [7 favorites]


Mind you, if I suddenly became super-rich I'd probably be looking at a suitably tall rocky island with good solar exposure for my fortified enclave. Get some terraces going, solar desalination, that sort of thing. Then recline and spend my days pumping water to the terraces, cleaning the solar panels, making sure the turbine is working, painting steelwork, and so on. Yay.

May I recommend Inaccessible Island, ringed by 1000 foot cliffs?
posted by JDC8 at 12:58 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


What terrifies me (ok one of the many things that terrifies me) is that as pointed out upthread scientists are none too optimistic about the East side either.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:03 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


The Earth may abide, but if Los Angeles is under five feet of seawater, the Dude can't.

Los Angeles is near the coast but because of geography it mostly won't be underwater. Long Beach and Huntington Beach have more of a problem but screw those guys. Drought and heat is much more of an issue for LA as a whole. By way of comparison, Sacramento (despite not being a coastal city) is under a much bigger threat from sea level rise and half the city could end up underwater compared to single-digit percentages of Los Angeles.
posted by Justinian at 1:48 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


Hi. I'm in Florida, and Marco Rubio is one of our Senators. Sorry.
posted by Cookiebastard at 2:35 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


lupus_yonderboy: "A carbon tax implies that you are allowed to put all the CO2 you want into the atmosphere if you pay"

As long as the price is high enough that the funds can pay for sequestration projects, that works, too.
posted by wierdo at 4:25 PM on May 13


Just to clarify, the majority of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet is quite stable and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. The paper about the potentially unstable ice in East Antarctica is talking about a part of it that could potentially become unstable within the next few hundred years. If it did become unstable, somewhat less than 10% of the ice in the East Antarctic ice sheet would be lost, over a time period of around 10,000 years. Cause for concern, certainly--that's still 3-4 meters of sea level rise, which is nothing to sneeze at--but not really on the same level of urgency as the West Antarctic's issues.
posted by fermion at 4:39 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Guys, guys! One of my state senators, the venerable Sen. Claire McCaskill, just emailed me about some groundbreaking legislation she's co-sponsoring in a bipartisan effort with Sen. Roy Blunt. They're supporting— No, it's not that roads-as-solar-panels thing. The legislation would— No, it wouldn't increase federal tax credits for home solar-panel installation. She said— No...she didn't say they'd increase excise taxes on the sale of overfished aquatic species. The bill is gonna— No, it's not gonna increase excise taxes on petroleum products, either. Can you just— Ugh, no, it's not going to do any of the things you want it to do. It's going to "rename Washington, D.C.'s iconic Union Station the 'Harry S. Truman Union Station,'" OK? Geez.
posted by limeonaire at 5:14 PM on May 13 [3 favorites]


.
posted by spitbull at 5:15 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


That too.
posted by limeonaire at 5:15 PM on May 13


It's awesome that I have access to journals through my school now, but also pisses me off that other people don't.
posted by runcibleshaw at 7:10 PM on May 13


For all you real estate planning for beach front property for you grand kids, checkout:

http://flood.firetree.net/

A 3m rise definitely makes west Sacramento a bit damper (that it already is). On the plus side Tracy will be prime real estate.

Not much of an effect around LA.
posted by Long Way To Go at 8:03 PM on May 13


John Oliver and Bill Nye Show Why Cable News Climate "Debates" Are So Ridiculous
posted by homunculus at 11:45 PM on May 13 [2 favorites]


You know, each piece of news I hear is worse than the last. Yet when this comes up around the lunch table, even the people I know who understand it respond with a shrug and a joke-- "guess I'll be moving to Greenland one of these days." The tone of the comments give it away-- we're not serious about this, and figure we'll make do one way or other (the richer of us in the richer countries, anyway). Global ecological collapse will destroy civilization if we let it happen. There is no moving away. But we don't believe it, or we'd be a lot angrier, and a lot more fearful.
posted by dougfelt at 12:16 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]


I was near the beach today, and I could see that the sea wall along the foreshore (St Kilda beach, for those of you who know Melbourne) was only about 1.5m above the high tide line. There are probably kids alive today who will see waves licking over that wall and washing the houses along Marine Parade.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:03 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


each piece of news I hear is worse than the last

The Big, Scary News About Melting Antarctic Ice Is Just the Beginning by Emily Atkin, a reporter at Climate Progress.

(Couldn't resist that setup line, dougfelt.) The article is basically a reminder that Greenland is also melting.
posted by ceribus peribus at 6:00 AM on May 14


Half Of The U.S. Is Now In A Drought
posted by homunculus at 9:58 AM on May 14


Half Of The U.S. Is Now In A Drought

Yeah, and the other half has a thunderstorm that stretches the entire height of the United States (seriously, look at the radar right now zoomed out to the continent level, it's freaky).
posted by limeonaire at 6:30 PM on May 14


sneebler: “Peter Watts' Maelstrom”
Thanks for this. I rarely read fiction anymore, but this book has been a fascinating diversion.
posted by ob1quixote at 3:21 PM on May 16


posted by kliuless at 6:39 PM on May 16 [6 favorites]


And the latest is ... also not good.
posted by Wordshore at 4:18 AM on May 19


-West Antarctic Ice Sheet News
-The Earth We Hold In Our Hands
-Science, Climate, and Skepticism
-Before My Time: Terrifyingly Beautiful
posted by kliuless at 6:48 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


Three years of observations show that the Antarctic ice sheet is now losing 159 billion tons of ice each year -- twice as much as when it was last surveyed.
Scientists have now produced the first complete assessment of Antarctic ice sheet elevation change.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 5:41 PM on May 19


Greenland's icy reaches are far more vulnerable to warm ocean waters from climate change than had been thought, according to new research by glaciologists. The work shows previously uncharted deep valleys stretching for dozens of miles under the Greenland Ice Sheet.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 5:44 PM on May 19


Kliuless's link to this is really worth watching: Before My Time: Terrifyingly Beautiful
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:01 PM on May 19 [1 favorite]


The More Environmental Disasters a State Suffers, the More Repressive Its Laws
posted by homunculus at 6:28 PM on May 22


Omnivore: The politics of climate change
posted by homunculus at 1:45 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]


So much Arctic ice has melted that we need a new atlas
posted by homunculus at 11:14 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


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