The Western Antarctic Ice Sheet

One of the primary threats of global warming/disruption/climate change is dramatic sea level rise over a short time span. This would be caused by sudden melting or disintegration of one of the world’s great ice sheets–Greenland, the Eastern Antarctic Ice Sheet, the Antarctic Peninsula Ice Sheet or the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet.

The first two  aren’t going anywhere any time soon. Greenland sits in a bowl and even the scientists most worried about its future say it would take more than a millenium to actually melt. The great Eastern Ice Sheet is huge, growing and stable. The Antarctic Peninsula Ice Sheet is subject to the vagaries of both weather and climate change, but is too small to pose a major threat. If it melted completely, sea levels would rise by 0.24 meters.

However the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet is considered unstable and may pose a threat to us. If all of  it were to disintegrate and move into the ocean, sea levels could rise as much as 16 feet. To be honest, though, scientists are more worried that specific sections of it might break off into the sea (with a projected 4-foot sea level rise), and by ‘sudden’ scientists mean over the course of a couple of centuries, which is some relief.

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This is a real possibility. So, is it time to hang all those fossil fuel executives yet, for crimes against humanity?

Well, no. People have been speculating about the threat posed by the WAIS since 1925, when The Geographic Journal published The Ross Barrier And The Mechanism Of Ice Movement, sparking an academic discussion that spanned a decade in a number of journals by a number of authors. None of them discussed climate change. What is possibly going to happen to the WAIS has happened over and over again.

Of course, the same people who link climate change to everything do say climate change is speeding up the disintegration of the WAIS. And they may have a point. If climate change is warming the waters that sweep through the bottom of the WAIS, it could be speeding it up. It’s also a real possibility.

So it’s a real shame that the alarmist community has shredded its credibility with me by linking global warming to foolishness ranging from Xtreme Weather to Himalayan glaciers that were said to disappear by 2035.

And this is what infuriates me. I’m not a skeptic of global warming. In theory, I should be on the side of scientists like Michael Mann, Trenberth, Santer and James Hansen.

So instead of manning the ramparts and trying to figure out what we might be able to do to lower eventual warming, I’m scratching my head wondering what to do with…just…another…claim.

Is it as true as this? “Over 4.5 Billion people could die from Global Warming-related causes by 2012. Runaway Global Warming promises to literally burn-up agricultural areas into dust worldwide by 2012, causing global famine, anarchy, diseases, and war on a global scale as military powers including the U.S., Russia, and China, fight for control of the Earth’s remaining resources.”

It’s a travesty.

It is possible that our contributions to global warming could accelerate the collapse of the Western Antarctic Ice Sheet and that our great grandchildren have something very real to worry about. And  yet, because of the hysteria strewn about so casually by NGOs, media types and lobbyists–and a few scientists as well, although most are properly conservative and quiet–I don’t trust their statements. But in the back of my mind I do remember…

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