A recent report published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters shows a large rift in the Pine Island glacier, one of two glaciers in the West Antarctic Ice Sheet which are responsible for preventing large chunks of ice in the sheet from floating out to sea and melting. These two glaciers form a large part of the total ice in Antarctica, which accounts for about half of the fresh water on the entire planet. Why is this important? Well, scientists that study glaciers have some pretty compelling evidence that, when the surface ice exposed in these rifts comes into contact with liquid ocean water, melting accelerates, similar to how ice in your whiskey tumbler melts faster when you crack it before putting it in the glass.
When the West Antarctic Ice Sheet melts, sea levels will rise globally around 10 feet. Here’s how your community will fare when that happens. And yes, scientists who study global warming phenomena think it’s a WHEN and not an IF. Furthermore, these recent reports concerning the rift in the Pine Island glacier suggest that it will melt sooner than we expected, perhaps in many of our lifetime.
Now, we need to figure out ways of both minimizing the extent of glacier melting, and protecting the people that live in vulnerable areas when the sea levels do rise. Back in the Nixon era, it was a commonly accepted belief that the world was warming, and the debate was over the best measures to counteract global warming. That’s how we ended up with the Clean Air Act, among others. But now the very existence of global warming is the subject of debate, as evidenced by the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology retweeting a debunked story from Brietbart. It’s ridiculous that climate change is again up for debate, given the solid body of work that scientists have assembled showing that the world is warming (and most of the data indicates that we humans have something to do with it), not to mention anecdotal evidence like intense droughts in California becoming more common.
So, what are we going to do about it? Saying “I told you so” will be a lot less satisfying when we’re all underwater, so if you have that relative who doesn’t think climate change is real, when you go home for the holidays, come armed with the facts and start a real conversation.
Beyond discussions at the dinner table, I would argue that we have two issues that need to be a part of a national conversation about climate change. First, America must continue to be an integral part of global steps to combat climate change. This is very much put into jeopardy with the incoming climate-change skeptic administration. So, call your congresspeople and beg them to support our continued involvement in the Paris Climate Agreement. Ask them to call for debate on some of the currently proposed bills concerning climate change. If you happen to be represented by someone who is a climate change denier, call their office and tell them you disagree with their stance on climate change.
Second, we need to come up with contingency plans for what will happen to our communities when (not if) sea levels do rise. This will need to be handled at a local as well as state and federal level, so if you live in a vulnerable community (especially one that doesn’t routinely have to deal with flooding!), go to your county’s board and civic association meetings and ask what the flood contingency plan is. Call your mayor’s office! Figure out what subsidies your state government offers for putting solar panels on your roof. And maybe…buy a boat and stock it with canned goods and a nice bottle of scotch. Just in case.
Already mourning the loss of frozen cocktails,
What I’m Drinking: Frozen Cranberry Cosmo
Here is a recipe for a cranberry cosmo, which combines the need for drinking frozen cocktails while we still cran (thanks Obama) with the festivities of the season.
- 4oz vodka
- 1oz lemon juice (about ½ a lemon)
- 1oz orange liqueur
- 2oz cranmary simple syrup
Put all of the above in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake and strain into chilled glasses and garnish with whole cranberries or a twist of lemon zest.
Cranberry simple syrup:
- 1 12oz bag cranberries (about 3 cups)
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 tbl chopped rosemary
- 2 ½ cups water
Put everything in a saucepan and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the berries have all popped, ladle them through a fine sieve set over a pitcher and collect the juice. Let the syrup chill until you’re ready to use.