Imagine the world of the future: Greenland will be green; Antarctica will be ice-free; the North Pole won’t be a stripped pole in the snow but a floating buoy in the ocean; and Miami will be an underwater park where scuba divers explore submerged office buildings and hotels. This is not science fiction, it is our new reality. That future may be coming sooner than you think.
On August 20, The Cryosphere journal published a new study which finds that the volume of ice loss in West Antarctica over the last three years was three times greater than ice loss from 2003 to 2009. The melt loss from Antarctica is sufficient to push up global sea levels by around 0.43mm per year.
In Greenland, the study found, recent ice loss was 2.5 times greater than earlier in the 2000s. The authors estimated the current total volume loss from both ice sheets to be 507 cubic kilometers a year.
“The contribution of both ice sheets together to sea level rise has doubled since 2009. To us, that’s an incredible number,” Angela Humbert, scientist at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany and study author told BBC News. The scientists arrived at their conclusions by comparing data from the European Space Agency’s CryoSat satellite from the period from January 2011 to January 2014 against data from the U.S. National Atmospheric and Aeronautics Administration (NASA) IceSat satellite from 2003 to 2009.
This is the latest study using the precision altimetry data being gathered by the European Space Agency's CryoSat platform launched in 2010. Cryostat uses a radar instrument to measure the shape of polar ice surfaces.
Meanwhile, other researchers announced that global warming from anthropogenic sources has become increasingly responsible for glacial melting. According to an article published in Science on August 15, the study found that since 1991 anthropogenic emissions have been responsible for almost 70 percent of glacial melt.
What is worse is that as the world’s glaciers adjust to a warmer climate, they are likely to be locked into accelerated ice loss in the coming century like the accelerating ice melt in Greenland and Antarctica. Melting glaciers are a major contributor to sea-level rise, which threatens coastal communities and infrastructure through flooding and increased vulnerability to storm surges.
“The need for fast action is critical,” said Durwood Zaelke, president of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development in the Science article. “Delaying short-lived climate pollutant (SLCP) mitigation by even 25 years will decrease the impact of CO2 and SLCP mitigation, and will make it difficult if not impossible to keep warming below 2 degrees C by the end of the century.”
Meanwhile, large numbers of members of Congress and state legislatures deny the existence of climate change and any involvement of man in it. These politicians are beneficiaries of massive campaign contributions from companies making billion of dollars of profits from fossil fuels. They get their talking points from oil, gas, and coal companies who use phony science to dupe the public.
Will people wake up before it is too late, or will they keep electing these mouth pieces for the oil and coal companies? Polls do not look good for candidates who are not paid for by big oil because people do not vote in mid-terms. It looks like the Koch Brothers and other carbon-polluters have a good chance of owning the U.S. Senate next year. They already own the House and most state legislatures. Unfortunately, we don’t have much time to reverse this.
Disclaimer: the author of this article is currently a candidate for the Colorado House of Representatives.