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West Antarctic Ice Sheet Is Collapsing

 
 
oralloy
 
Reply Mon 12 May, 2014 11:05 pm

http://news.sciencemag.org/climate/2014/05/west-antarctic-ice-sheet-collapsing

Sad
 
Setanta
 
  3  
Reply Tue 13 May, 2014 02:35 am
In his 1994 novel, Green Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson describes the probable consequences of just such an event.
0 Replies
 
Romeo Fabulini
 
  2  
Reply Tue 13 May, 2014 03:06 am
Quote:
Article quote: the entire ice sheet is doomed, which would release enough meltwater to raise sea levels by more than 3 meters.

3 metres is peanuts, I live 50 yeards from the Atlantic but I live on the 3rd floor 10 metres up so I'll be high and dry, and only the guy on the ground floor will get flooded..Smile
0 Replies
 
revelette2
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 May, 2014 06:33 am
Forbes has an interesting solution the Antarctic melting, do nothing.

If Antarctic Melting Has Passed The Point Of No Return We Should Do Less About Climate Change, Not More

Quote:
The economics of what we should do about climate change can be rather interestingly different from what we’re urged to do by the scientists and environmentalists. This is no doubt the effect of some character or moral flaw in economists but it is true that we can come up with some remarkably different policy prescriptions from exactly the same evidence. Take, for example, the reports out today that the glaciers of West Antarctica are melting, have passed the point of no return, and thus that sea levels are going to rise some several feet over the next few centuries (yes, we are talking about centuries here, no one at all outside Greenpeace and the like is trying to say that Manhattan will be underwater by Tuesday noon next).

We can all imagine, heck, wait a few hours and we won’t have to imagine it, the cries from scientists and environmentalists shouting that this really proves that we’ve got to pull our fingers out and really solve this climate change problem. The economists’ answer is that this just proves that we need to do less about trying to avert climate change. As I say, a very different policy answer from the very same (and for our purposes here, entirely undisputed) facts.

Four feet isn’t going to produce those Nevada beachside condos but it’s also probably something that we’d prefer not to happen. So we can understand those calling for a large and immediate reduction in carbon emissions and so on. Can’t we?


Except an economist is going to look at that past “the point of no return”. That is, again without contesting the water level rise resulting, that this is all about sunk costs. Whatever it was that we needed to do to cause this sea level rise (you can even call it a calamity or a disaster if you wish) we have already done. It doesn’t matter what we do in the future because, given that it’s past that point of no return, whatever we do do won’t make it not happen. That’s what that point of no return phrase actually means.

So, given that it’s going to happen whatever we do what effort should we be expending to try and stop it happening, what should we be doing? The answers to those two questions being none and nothing. If it’s going to happen anyway then we shouldn’t waste resources in trying to stop it happening.

Now, if the original claim was that without immediate and stringent action then it might happen then perhaps more action might be logically supportable. But given that the claim is actually that whatever we do it’s going to happen then the correct decision is simply to shrug our shoulders and go invest in some sandbags to keep back the floods. For however much we impoverish ourselves by killing off industrial society, or by razing all the coal fired stations to build more expensive solar installations, that flooding is going to happen anyway. So, why make ourselves poorer in order to change nothing?

As I say, the policy prescriptions you can get from these descriptions of climate change can change quite alarmingly depending upon whether you view them through the lens of economics or not. If it’s inevitable that past emissions will raise sea levels four feet then there’s no point at all in limiting current emissions to prevent that four foot rise. We might as well face the floods being as rich, fat and happy as we can, without wasting resources on trying to prevent something inevitable.

It is only if continuing emissions are going to lead to something more, something else possibly worse, happening that there’s any economic case at all for limiting them. As it happens I think that there are worse things that might happen and that there is a very good case indeed for limiting future emissions. But this finding, that West Antarctica is going to melt no matter what just isn’t a valid reason to limit future emissions. The damage is already done, see?


0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  4  
Reply Thu 15 May, 2014 09:04 am
A truly stupid article, full of inaccuracies and designed to reassure those whose capital gains income derives from the energy sector. The sea level rise they are talking about is not four feet, it's three meters, which is more than nine feet. Furthermore, that is the estimated rise from melt water, and doesn't include the displacement rise which will occur if the west Antarctic ice sheet breaks away and floats free--then the rise could be six meters (more than 19 feet) or even seven meters (almost 22 feet). To put that in perspective, Sheerness, a city of 13,000 on the island of Sheppey at the estuary of the Medway River, where that enters the Thames estuary, lies one meter, one meter above sea level. Even the three meter rise predicted will turn the entire population of Sheerness into refugees as at least the first floor of every building is flooded. With a six meter rise, the first and second floors of every building will be flooded. That's on the south side of the Thames estuary. On the north side lies Essex, most of which is as little as three feet above sea level. The huge North Sea flood of 1953, causes by persistent heavy winds, flooded Canvey Island (which lies all of three feet above the high tide level) and South Benfleet, a city the size of Sheerness.' In fact, the entire Thames estuary could flood as far west as London itself.

Much of Florida is at sea level, and the average elevation of Miami is six feet. The same applies to many of the coastal areas of the American Gulf Coast--Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. A rise of three meters in sea level would affect tens of millions of people around the world, at least. To protect a city such as Miami would cost at least tens of millions of dollars. It's pretty easy to be complacent if one's own home sits far enough above sea level.

The significance of this news is not just in the probable extent of sea level rise--which this author dismisses through distortion--but that it is symptomatic. Iceland and Greenland are also covered with glaciers. The glaciation in the Himalayas could cause sufficient flooding to flood the entire nation of Bangladesh if they were to melt. I'm not surprised to see this kind of "no skin off my nose" article in Forbes Magazine. After all, there's money to be made!
revelette2
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 May, 2014 09:16 am
@Setanta,
Then he goes on to say, he doesn't believe that everything that was going to happened has already happened , so really his saying why do anything doesn't make a lot of sense from his own perspective.
Setanta
 
  3  
Reply Thu 15 May, 2014 09:25 am
@revelette2,
It makes a lot of sense if he derives significant portions of his income from the sale of fossil fuels by the energy industry.

Here's a little something to five one the sense of scale. This map shows Antartica compared to Texas:

http://www.searchanddiscovery.com/documents/halbouty/images/Halbouty-6-600.JPG

The map shows land, but not the ice shelf. Look to the bottom left and you'll see the Ross Sea. That's where the Ross ice shelf is located. Ignoring for the moment the other ice shelves in west Antarctica, imagine what kind of sea level rise would be caused by an iceberg the size of Texas floating free into the Pacific Ocean.
revelette2
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 May, 2014 10:24 am
@Setanta,
Do you think climate change denial has more to do with finance than religious beliefs?

I sure wouldn't want to be on a ship passing that iceberg...I don't guess you could pass it.
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Thu 15 May, 2014 10:26 am
@revelette2,
Yes, i certainly do think that greed motivates more people than religion does. The religious nutbags who deny science are a definite minority, although they are loud. Resistance to the reduction of CO2 levels, however, seems to me to be motivated by people examining their capital gains bottom line.
0 Replies
 
woiyo
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 May, 2014 10:39 am
@oralloy,
It already too late to do anything. France is right. We have 500 days left.
revelette2
 
  1  
Reply Sun 18 May, 2014 09:54 am
@woiyo,
So, since it's too late, should we just continue on as we are and wait for something else to happen and then say, it is too late to do anything?

Whan the sunne shinth make hay.
Whiche is to say.
Take time whan time cometh, lest
time steale away.

http://www.phrases.org.uk/images/make-hay-while-the-sun-shines.jpg

soure

It seems to me that climate change deniers are still acting as though we are in mediaeval times with no way of knowing these things. Except of course they knew better than to put off gathering their hay until it was too late.

roger
 
  1  
Reply Sun 18 May, 2014 03:22 pm
@revelette2,
No. Instead of wasting assets to change what can't be changed, we should be using them to accommodate the upcoming changes.
revelette2
 
  1  
Reply Sun 18 May, 2014 03:27 pm
@roger,
OK, accommodating the upcoming changes is better than just continuing the status quo.

But what does mean exactly, in other words, what accommodations would be made and who would make them?
roger
 
  2  
Reply Sun 18 May, 2014 04:06 pm
@revelette2,
Well, for starters, we might eliminate all floodplain insurance in coastal areas, whether federal or private. I've no doubt there would be a pervasive migration from such areas to higher ground. It wouldn't be quick, but I believe it would turn out to be very influential.

I do realize that the dangers of fire and mudslides in California hasn't kept people from building really nice homes on, above, and below exposed areas. At least, those that stay won't be passing the liability onto the rest of us.
Lash
 
  1  
Reply Sun 18 May, 2014 04:33 pm
@roger,
Brilliant and I bet - effective.
roger
 
  1  
Reply Sun 18 May, 2014 07:29 pm
@Lash,
I hope so. If it gets to hot, we might work on better relations with Canada.
oralloy
 
  0  
Reply Sun 18 May, 2014 09:19 pm
@roger,
roger wrote:
If it gets to hot, we might work on better relations with Canada.

There may well come a time when the majority of the American populace lives in Alaska.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 May, 2014 01:51 am
Roger's idea is very good. Even without considerations of sea-level rise, the Federal programs of the 1980s encouraged building in coastal areas which increased insurance costs for all home owners, because these properties were in the paths of major tropical storms every year. Sea level rise would only make the situation worse.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 May, 2014 05:18 am
@Setanta,
many eastern coastal states like Maryland and Delaware had established comprehensive "coastal Zoning" acts that put some interesting controls on development. Maryland stablished some control distances from the Chesapeake and the Ocean in which NO building could occur. Delaware hd that rule and then got beaten down by the very powerful real estate and home builders lobbies in the state. The rules in Delaware are more watered down but do include the fact that most beach front houses don't sit upon land that the homeowner owns. The homeowner LEASES the land for 30 year contracts and builds on top. If the home is washed away and no matter what the insurance says, that lot can no longer be rebuilt.
So Delaware is a matter of " wait till the big one hits'.

Many multi million dollar shacks are going up on the beach edges , Itll be interesting to see the first wash away storms like Sandy ( from which Delaware was mostly spared , with the exception of one beach town and looong stretch of wild lands ). The wild lands were just a series of barrier islands that were bulldozed off the highway and replanted and today theyre looking pretty much like they did.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 May, 2014 05:30 am
@farmerman,
Yeah, the whole series of coastal acts in Congress in the 1980s were projects of the development lobbies, and there really was no opposition lobby. Developers, of course, get their money out quickly, so it'll be no skin off their noses if the sea level rises.

Like you, i do not know, of course, if CO2 levels are leading or a following indicator of climate change. That climate change is happening is a no-brainer, and is not historically unusual. However, the thing down in Antarctica has alarmed me as i've looked into it because this has been under watch for more than 30 years. The alarming part is that the retreat of the glacier to which the ice sheet is attached has been accelerated, and this is an unexpected event according to the glaciologists who have been studying it for almost two generations. I just heard a good piece on this on DW radio (German public radio) this morning--but i was not quite awake yet, so i didn't catch the name of the glaciologist they interviewed.

Fortunately, we live upon the bluff. We're OK until they hit that 200 meter sea level rise.
 

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