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Oceans to rise 10 feet as West Antarctic ice sheet begins to disintegrate; Earth paralyzed

Ice melting = warmer, mkay?

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:

Figure 1

And second, from NASA, of North America:

Figure 2

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.

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Submitted by lambert on

... by 2030. I've got huge confidence in the technical abilities of the Thai people, but.... They need to get this political thing solved if they're going to address problems of this scope. Like us, or like the US.

V. Arnold's picture
Submitted by V. Arnold on

...they dealt with the massive flooding a few years back? I am one of little faith.
The key word here is corruption...

Cujo359's picture
Submitted by Cujo359 on

So the nation that has the greatest power to save the world, ... has no incentive to act; no pain point.

We along the coasts have a pain point, which is that over the next century or so we'll need to move most of our port and recreational facilities, or figure out how to protect them.

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Submitted by nippersdad on

Re the Southeastern question: I do believe that there is a tipping point, even here. As a member of the Master Gardener program in West Georgia I have seen a huge uptick in the numbers of people who are trying to grow their own food as a direct response to the withering of an already marginal economy.

While, on average, it may not appear that we are as affected by the changing weather patterns we see elsewhere, the patterns themselves are not the whole story. Global weirding is the big issue here thus far, and it is getting a lot of notice. Atlanta aside, this is an agrarian state and as such it is disproportionately affected by the droughts, freezes and floods that do not feature in mean temperature charts. IOW, one late freeze and there is no peach crop; that is news here.

We have had a lot of such stories the past couple of years. We just do not get freezes on tax day like we had this year, and it is memorable because that is the secular version of planting day on the Piedmont. Those who planted on Easter this year were just SOL and have had to replant. As this is the Bible belt I will leave any potential inferences for others to make, however, when both God and the Government strike down your peas, you notice.

The biggest problem here, IMHO, is not denialism for the most part but a lack of the necessary resources to do anything about it. For a people who are used to being starved in a variety of different ways, this is just another issue that is being left to our so-called "betters" to solve...and, as you know, they have yet to find it in their interests to solve a problem that they can make so very much money from. Georgia Pacific, a subsidiary of Koch Enterprises, is one of Georgia's largest landowners and also comprises one of our largest industries; it should, therefore, come as no surprise that their headquarters are within walking distance of the Gold Dome.

Fix that and I think that the rest will logically follow.

Submitted by lambert on

Thanks for the view from the ground. Sounds like Georgia Pacific has the clout where you are that it does up here in Maine, where I am. This too resonates with me:

The biggest problem here, IMHO, is not denialism for the most part but a lack of the necessary resources to do anything about it. For a people who are used to being starved in a variety of different ways, this is just another issue that is being left to our so-called "betters" to solve...and, as you know, they have yet to find it in their interests to solve a problem that they can make so very much money from. Georgia Pacific, a subsidiary of Koch Enterprises, is one of Georgia's largest landowners and also comprises one of our largest industries; it should, therefore, come as no surprise that their headquarters are within walking distance of the Gold Dome.

Being "starved" makes me think of Maine as well.... Can you amplify that?

NOTE "Planting on tax day" -- too funny! Mainers plant on Memorial Day.

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Submitted by nippersdad on

As a member of a family who has lived in the South for nearly three centuries, I think that I can authoritatively state that we have an authoritarian culture which has been insufficiently watered down by immigration to make much of a difference, save for within some of our larger cities wherein, even then, the power structure remains largely unaltered. The slave mentality was never limited to actual slaves. If one is to amplify the point it is essential to understand that, however politically incorrect it may sound.

We do have our "betters" here, and we routinely rely upon them to make decisions for us up to and beyond the point where we actually starve. Anything can be rationalized by them as a matter of course. This is not a controversial statement. I live just outside of a University town in an otherwise fairly rural county: Read a few people with lots of land....and Georgia Pacific/Georgia Power/Southwire/Sony/Walmart who employ the smallholders....... While this area superficially appears to have a comparatively progressive culture, little has actually changed from when the primary economic engine involved sharecroppers raising cotton, and we have the literacy rates to prove it. It was only a few years ago that a member of our areas' economic leadership/elite had a baby, and straw was put on the road in front of their home to keep the noise down...by the police.

This was considered adorable.

It was also only a few years ago that three thousand people lined up for groceries at a church; which was considered commendable of them.

No dots were connected in the process.

While there is obviously a legacy of racism, the primary driver of inequality in the South is the attitude that people were born into a certain station, and that that station is, and should be, largely static. Everyone is born to their condition and it would be very nearly futile to argue the point; even the poor, perhaps especially the poor, can recognize an upstart and despise them for it. Additionally, one no longer has to actually be poor to retain this viewpoint so thoroughly has it been ingrained in them; the attitude then becomes one of self defense to avoid the implication of self aggrandizement/social climbing on their parts...ignoring those above them on the scale who have retained their position through (wait for it) blatant self aggrandizement which is, of course, their prerogative.

As they said at the turn of the Twentieth century, "No one is so snobbish as the British working classes." You are just looking at the American equivalent, and a lot of the true economic elite who employ them in the here and now are going to have to "lose theirs" for the present system to change, just as in Britain in 1914. Because, unfortunately, there are a lot of people here who really never had anything to lose to begin with and have found a way to take pride in it...as did the British working classes or the small holders who fought my family's battles (to their cost) for them in the Civil war. They won't move before the system implodes, as Britains' did, as did the Confederacy's. It is all about the tribe, and that the tribal leaders routinely fail to point out the size of the pie and to how much of it one is entitled is irrelevant. As in all traditional societies, the existing social order is paramount; everything else flows from that.

The good news is that that can be used to advantage: Reid is on to a good thing calling out the Koch's as carpet baggers. Unfortunately, being the cynical creep he is, he has shown his hand in defending Adelson. He may use the strategy to advantage, but certainly not to ours. Or, translation, he may get Michelle Nunn into the Senate, but we will still be screwed.

Submitted by lambert on

This:

It was only a few years ago that a member of our areas' economic leadership/elite had a baby, and straw was put on the road in front of their home to keep the noise down...by the police.

This was considered adorable.

More like this, please. All I know is what I read in the papers.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

but have several generations of Atlantans in my family line, including my Mother [who fairly recently passed], and she, like my Father, were "fire-breathing liberals."

And both taught us "to question everything," especially authority. And they were also very active in the faith community. But thankfully, an authoritarian mindset did not rub off on them.

(They were both born at the turn of these century, and were adults during the Great Depression. Maybe that influenced their political views.)

That is quite a story about your local government officials. It's been my experience that Southern politicians and law enforcement are pretty often "corrupt." I suspect that the propensity for authoritarianism that you describe, is partly responsible for this.

Wish you guys "luck" if Michelle Nunn wins a Senatorial seat. I'm sure you know that Sam Nunn was a founder of the DLC ["In 1985 Nunn, along with U.S. senators Lawton Chiles and Charles Robb, and U.S. representative Richard Gephardt, formed the Democratic Leadership Conference (DLC), . . .].

Hopefully, Michelle won't be as conservative.

IIRC, Georgia has quite a heavy "military influence." I've only been to Fort Benning (Columbus) when we returned to the Lower 48,and I was on LWOP from DOD, and the "now defunct" Fort MacPherson (Atlanta metro area, East Point).

Anyway, look forward to hearing about your neck of the woods. It will likely bring back a few fond memories.

;-)

nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

Alexa, you were fortunate in your choice of parents! they sound like they were very interesting people. The Depression had a huge impact upon that generation; my grandparents' generation in this case. I adored my Grandmother, and some of her most endearing traits were directly attributable to that time in her life. She would pay for college educations for the grandkids with abandon, and hoard vast amounts, crates and crates, of home-made pepper jelly or chow chow which, even when we made them, she could never eat because of a gastric problem. I'm sorry to hear that your Mother has passed, but we never really lose them, do we? They are still a force of nature, even as nature has claimed them for her own.

Yes, I would agree that most of our officialdom is corrupt to some degree. I think that the good old boy network, so to speak, really is a direct reflection on the paucity of opportunity that we have traditionally had down here. It has its' good points and bad points, though; I have seen both great generosity and tragedy result from it...but it really all boils down to opportunity, or the lack of it. That is why all of the military bases are down here, it represents about the only way for a lot of people to get out of town and do something with their lives.

Michelle Nunn is the new Hillary Clinton. I have every faith that she will win her seat as the GOP alternatives are truly an embarrassment to all of the usual embarrassments...and the seas will rise and the sun will set and nothing will change save the oughts in her bank account. Welcome to the good old boy network, Michelle; you should prove quite useful...as long as you stay in your place. As it was in the beginning, is now and will ever be, amen,

Such is my analysis of Michelle Nunn.

I am actually more interested in "Dr. Rad". His surname is really quite unpronounceable. The Party is being very smart about this. Having a (supposedly?) liberal alternative gives the illusion-of-inclusion that they failed to provide in the last election. He should poll well inside the perimeter of the cities (Atlanta and Athens...maybe Savannah)(no, not Savannah...well, maybe, who knows?). When he inevitably goes down in the Primaries, they should keep a lot of those drawn in by him for the general. Not a bad investment for a six year plus term. Who says our kids can't learn?

This should be an interesting political year, here. The guns everywhere law has the usual suspects in a defensive crouch, for example, which is kind of fun. Makes for a change, anyway. Overreach on so very many of the usual topics has the opposition in disarray to a degree that I do not remember ever happening. Of course, I have been wrong before. This is, after all, the state that provided the two adulterers who led the national charge for family values against another adulterer. One just never knows....Speaking of sex, I kind of miss the Republican who (proudly!) admitted in his campaign to having intercourse with barnyard animals......seldom a dull moment.

If anything fun comes up I'll be sure to mention it!

nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

THAT is precisely the question on everyone's minds these days.

Branko Radulovacki (or something like that) was born elsewhere and came to the U.S. as a child. He actually refers to himself as "Dr. Rad". Cue ominous music, he graduated from the University of Chicago with an economics degree and was "baptized into the faith" fairly recently. He is a proponent of Obamacare with the usual proviso that it can be improved. He lives in Vinings (aka wingnut central), is a self made millionaire, the result of several different careers, and now works as a psychiatrist. He appears to be a very smart man and can find the precise center of any argument with remarkable ease. He is running as the liberal alternative to Michelle Nunn, famous largely for her profitable work with non-profits and multimillionaire Father who also pushed nuclear arms control treaties.

I met his Wife recently at a local Democratic get-to-know-the-candidate thing and she is pretty much what one would expect. All very anodyne and seemingly predictable. It looks like a dog and pony show to me. But, you know, hell, it is the only show in town.

I really do wish that I could be less cynical about these things, but hopey changey went out of fashion long before the Obama era here. At this point I'm not sure whether I am a victim or the disease.

Submitted by lambert on

This:

[H]e graduated from the University of Chicago with an economics degree

They're not taking any chances, are they? It's important to put a tame "leftist" out there so the Overton Window remains nailed firmly in place.

nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

Re: danger Will Robinson!

My first thought when reading that Chicago school factoid was that "this was a bad day to stop sniffing glue".

I guess they really meant it when they were talking about increased transparency, though I am forced to wonder what they thought this form of it would achieve for them.

Alexa's picture
Submitted by Alexa on

"The Depression had a huge impact upon that generation; my grandparents' generation in this case."

Just to clarify, so I don't sound like an octogenarian, my parents were "grandparents ages" when I was born. (Almost fifty and middle 40's.)

Not that I'm dissing any considerably older bloggers here--if there are any.

;-)

Seriously, I have always considered myself quite fortunate to have had parents who could give me a "direct account" of The Great Depression.

And longevity runs in the family--Mother was a centenarian. And her Mother lived well into her nineties--passing away while I was still an undergraduate student. (Which would put her birth year somewhere in the 1880's. And she was "the youngster" among my grandparents, LOL!)

nippersdad's picture
Submitted by nippersdad on

I, too, have always thought it fortunate to have had a window into that period. So much so that many of the eccentricities of that generation appear to have jumped generations in my case. Prolly my third or fourth worst fault is one of hoarding...I just cannot help myself.

Rooms crammed with new/unused towels and cupboards filled with ten year old pasta. Forty eight cans of tomato sauce ("Don't use my backup supply! We'll just get some more."). My Wife has a very special look for when I find a good deal on something.....Though, she does find it useful to have NEVER had to go shopping for wedding or Christmas presents.....At least my neuroses do not include gallon jugs of twisty ties, I was spared that...Although, really, they could come in useful at some point...Hmmm, I need to think about that....

Seriously, though, for all of their faults, that was a great generation and I think a lot of us missed out on knowing them better.

Submitted by lambert on

.... were highly educated; my grandfather would break into Greek when he was writing over-excitedly. And my parents were also, though less than their parents, and I also, though less than them, but way more than many younger than me, alas.

My parents were the ones who made the American University system into the glory of the world before the neo-liberals decided to destroy it.