Oceans to rise 10 feet as West Antarctic ice sheet begins to disintegrate; Earth paralyzed
The collapse of large parts of the ice sheet in West Antarctica appears to have begun and is almost certainly unstoppable, with global warming accelerating the pace of the disintegration, two groups of scientists reported Monday.
The finding, which had been feared by some scientists for decades, means that a rise in global sea level of at least 10 feet may now be inevitable. The rise may continue to be relatively slow for at least the next century or so, the scientists said, but sometime after that it will probably speed up so sharply as to become a crisis.
“This is really happening,” said Thomas P. Wagner, who runs NASA’s programs on polar ice and helped oversee some of the research. “There’s nothing to stop it now. But you are still limited by the physics of how fast the ice can flow.”
Well, 100 years is enough time for the 0.01% to build their rocket ship so they can go Galt on Mars! So kwicherbellyachin. As for the politics of it, here are two useful but deeply ironic maps. First, from NOAA, of the world:
And second, from NASA, of North America:
So, why are these maps deeply ironic? As we see from Figure 1, although the world is mostly getting hotter (redder, ice-meltier), the citizens of the world's most powerful nation can -- in the aggregate -- can justly say "What do you mean, 'hotter'?!" So the nation that has the greatest power to save the world, whether through force, persuasion, or sheer example of using fucking less carbon (for pity's sake), has no incentive to act; no pain point.
Worse, as we see from Figure 2 -- and I hate to play the Red State / Blue State / Republican / Democrat card here, but the map is what it is -- the Republican heartland in the Southeast, hence the political base of climate denialism, isn't feeling the effects either, so they -- again, in the aggregate -- have not only no incentive to act, their personal lived experience reinforces their denialism.
I remember a landfill meeting where the trash people from Casella preened themselves that the landfill liner was good for 50 years. The Penobscots responded, drily, that they thought on a longer time-scale than that. The Penobscots got it right.
I almost think that the only way forward is to make oil and petroleum objects of taboo, of ritual disgust. Perhaps raising the price isn't enough; we need to make buying gas a lot more like a ritual involving shame and expiation, rather than a transaction. Of course, that would make "filling up" a lot more cumbersome and time-consuming, but that's not a bug. It's a feature.