Antarctic Ice Shelf Crumbles

Antarctic ice loss surgesA 160 square mile chunk of Antarctica's Wilkens ice shelf is collapsing [ark | moreark | more2ark2 | search] in the continent's fast warming southwest Antarctic Peninsula. “Block after block of ice is just tumbling and crumbling into the ocean.. The shelf is not just cracking off and a piece goes drifting away, but totally shattering.” Given the Connecticut sized collapsing shelf is permanent floating ice, in itself this will not lead to sea level rise [search]. But loss of ice shelves does make it easier for land ice to melt and otherwise move into the ocean.
Along with Arctic sea and glacial ice melt, this new alarming example of accelerated ice cap melting [ark] presents dramatic visual evidence illustrating the advanced state of global heating. The time for the discussions of small thinking in response to climate change and global ecological crises is long since past. Simply, light bulbs and Priuses, biofuels and carbon trading, are not going to do it. Only a comprehensive program of social change — things like ending coal use and ancient forest logging, while reducing human population and consumption — pursued through intense advocacy, awareness building and profound personal and societal revolution, will save us now.

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16 Responses

  1. Dear Friends,
    Is it possible that the scientific evidence of climate change is appearing ubiquitously; but our "brightest and best" are refusing the "connect the dots" to its profound implications for the future of life as we know it on Earth?
    Sincerely,
    Steve

  2. Anna Simpson says:

    I'd agree with you very much here. As you say saving electricity, using the cars less, none of this is going to make a great difference, what's need is for the whole world to do it together, but this isn't physically possible really is it? Slowing down and stopping global warming, isn't going to happen now.
    I'm only 17 years old, and I feel very passionately about the world around me, I recyle, use the car as little as possible, cut down on electricity, but if there are only a few people like me in the world doing this, it is not going to make a great deal of difference.
    It is very worrying at how fast the sea ice is melting, especially as it's melting faster than first thought.

  3. R. Gates says:

    The break up of Antarctica from global warming has been predicted for years. Like the melting of the arctic, it might happen much faster than has been thought possible.
    Prepare for rapid climate change…that's the best advice. Not much we can do to stop it now as the carbon doxide is already in the system.

  4. Delphiseus says:

    As you say, we are well past the point where conservation band-aids are going to do any good. In fact, the extremely limited individual action being taken in energy and environmental conservation won't even slow the advance of human inflicted climate change. Despite the blatantly obvious facts there are many who continue to deny at various levels:
    – There is no climate change
    – Climate change exists, but is natural and cyclical and not human caused
    – There may be slight human caused climate change but it isn't a significant threat
    – Even if there is significant climate change it isn't a concern as we will simply adapt
    Indeed, the time for continued discussion is over. Those who get it already get it. Those who don't will get it soon enough. Continuing to argue is a waste of time. R. Gates is absolutely right, we need to prepare for rapid and catastrophic climate change.
    But what does that mean? Frankly, I believe that the ONLY solution to be found, be it short-term or long-term, is in a rapid reduction in the human population. And honestly, I fear that this is the solution that we are on a course for whether we like it or not. I know this sounds morbid and dire, and I want to be clear that I am not advocating anything destructive with this statement.
    But, when the sea levels begin to rise dramatically (displacing tens of millions in our most affluent coastal cities worldwide), when the crops we have come to depend on stop being able to reproduce and/or grow in the altered environment, when climate change begins to impact both viral and bacterial evolution such that new and currently incurable diseases become concurrent plagues, and when our water supplies become irreparably disrupted, I can only postulate that this will take an enormous toll in human life. Further, as these factors begin to impact our society and economic and governmental systems begin to falter I can only assume that this will result in widespread individual and tribal violence as a desperate population struggles to survive in a world far harsher than that to which we have grown accustomed. We are already seeing this in certain areas of Africa.
    I want to be clear that I AM NOT advocating anything actively destructive. In fact, I desperately hope that I am wrong in this assessment. However, at this point I see no other likely future, regardless of our intentions or actions. Those of us who see the path laid out before us, and who have been actively advocating conservation efforts to stem the tide of our own catastrophic short-sightedness for the past several decades, need now to begin preparing for the worst.
    At this point I firmly believe that all manner of efforts to create small, minimal footprint, self-sustaining populations should be pursued post-haste. Like the many collapsed societies of our past (the various Mesopotamian cultures, the Mayans, etc.) I am advocating nothing less than the re-colonization of our planet and the abandonment of the vast majority of our current habitats. I know that this sounds reactionary, and perhaps revolutionary (although again, I am NOT advocating revolution), but I fear that these are the times in which we live.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I do not beleive that there needs to be a reduction in the population at all. Because if we eventullay go into another ice age everything that happens before is going to wipe out a whole lot of us as it is and what strong and or lucky ones if I dare call them lucky survive we are going to need them to insure the human race.

  6. kgic says:

    I read that the ice shelf that broke of Antartica was the size of Montreal, and also the penguins that live there will have to find a new place to live.

  7. Ray says:

    The portion of ice that broke off is very small compared to what remains and what remains has been growing to record size.
    Speaking of a new place to live….Would any one reading this and living in a coastal area wish to trade for high elevation real estate? I can secure several square miles of ground all exceeding 5280 feet above sea level.

  8. ewoc says:

    Ray,
    Sorry to disabuse you, but the West Antarctic ice sheet is melting rapidly (see satellite data from numerous sources). In 2006, temps at higher elevations (more than 4500 feet above sea level) in Western Antarctica exceeded 41 degrees F, which is actually pretty remarkable. Happy to furnish sources for this data if you like.
    The East Antarctic ice sheet is adding mass, because more moisture in the air (from warmer temps) means more snow, in that part of the Southern Polar region anyway. But if you think that reflects anything other than confirmation of the modeling for global heating, you don't understand the physics of a warming world.
    Guess everyone is entitled to their opinions, right?

  9. Ray says:

    Hey ewoc, snow still blankets my driveway. The offer still stands.

  10. Delphiseus says:

    On a lighter note, apparently Ted Turner agrees with me: http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/news/stories/2008/04/03/turner_0404.html

  11. Ray says:

    What would be odd is if large chunks of ice never broke off the fringes of polar caps.
    Instead both polar icecaps are growing, (sea ice too ewoc) the oceans show a slight cooling, and solar gymnastics are very delayed, none of which bodes well for our future warmth or well being.

  12. Michael Davis says:

    Man. You forgot to mention that even though this big chunk fell off (like happens EVERY SPRING since before the dawn of man!!!), that the Antarctic Ice Shelf itself GREW TO RECORD SIZE during the preceding winter.. The previous record size for the Antarctic Ice Shelf was 16.03 sq. km. and now the record is 16.7 sq. km..
    Oh.. and you forgot to mention also that the Arctic Ice Shelf has grown back to it's pre-1998 size and has grown 10 – 20 centimeters as well thanks to a VERY COLD Canadian Winter.
    You might want to also look at the Q3 Goddard Institute report on solar output that showed a sudden unpredicted decrease in solar output that preceded the dramatic cooling of late 2007 (and is predicted to continue decreasing for the next 10 – 20 years).
    What's next? Your ice cream going to melt in the middle of summer and you are gonna cry “man-made global warming”?
    This is nothing more than billing a natural event as a crisis for the purpose of global governance. This very thing was discussed by the UN in the 70s to scare everyone into being under a global governing body. I am willing to bet that since the new trend will be global cooling bringing in some of the coldest winters in modern memory, they will go back to the “coming global ice age” and see if they can get it in that way. Go look at what real science says causes global warming instead of the IPCC reports that are comprised of studies by scientists who want to make their mark and is funded by oil companies that want to sell you new products (i.e.: BP started preaching man-made global warming after they secured the patent and distribution rights for E85, and now Shell has joined the bandwagon mere weeks after approval of their algae based bio-fuel!).
    WAKE UP TO THE REAL LIES BEING TOLD TO YOU!

  13. alex says:

    AMEN MICHAEL!

  14. NeilG says:

    To those who staunchly argue that global warming does not exist I commend you to join with the Flat Earth Society.

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