You Cannot Imagine . . . the Speed of Change in Antarctica’s Doomsday Glaciers

From the European Space Agency (9/29/2020):

“To reveal what’s really going on at Pine Island and Thwaites, we dug into imaging data from a number of different satellites,” says Stef Lhermitte of Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and lead author of the new study.”

“We found structural damage at the ‘shear margins’ of the glaciers’ ice shelves, where the ice transitions from fast- to slow-moving: large crevasses, rifts and open fractures that indicate that the ice shelves are slowly tearing apart. Currently, the ice shelves are a little like a slow car in traffic: they force anything behind them to slow down. Once they’re removed, ice sitting further inland will be able to speed up, which in turn will cause sea levels to rise even faster.”

“Such crevasses were not seen in imagery from 1997, and damage appeared far less prevalent in imagery from 2016, demonstrating that the deterioration accelerated over the past two decades and has grown significantly worse in the last few years.”

Source: Worsening rifts and fractures spotted at two of Antarctica’s most important glaciers

Don’t make the mistake of just thinking of sea level rise, because it ignores the world-changing consequences of refugees; those people fleeing from the rapidly-rising waters along every coastline in the world, and on the coastline is where every-single-civilization congregates, which is to say, every-single-civilization will be dealing with the crisis caused by masses of desperate, homeless, and hungry people.

It sounds like a horror novel.

Here’s what you can bank on; bet your life savings; wager the whole damn house: humanity will fail because we lack imagination.

We have been unable to imagine the consequences of climate change when they were presented to us decades ago, when we should have acted, post-haste, as a whole species, and re-oriented our world around a different set of values, a truly noble set of virtues — like family and learning and conservation and peace, for God’s sake, some mother-fucking peace in the world, but we didn’t: we decided it was best to focus on greed and consumption.

We decided to make the economy God, and it is to this God we all worship every-single-day, each trip to Walmart another testament to our worship and devotion.

This is besides the point.

Sea Level Rise means Climate Refugees, and these glaciers are cracking up fast, faster than humanity could ever imagine might happen. This is to say, these “shocking” developments should have been humanity’s middle road.

The things that are happening with the climate are part of our worst-case scenarios, things like the RCP’s, the IPCC’s Representative Concentration Pathways worst case scenarios. The weather we see predicted for a half century or more in the future, we are seeing now. Humanity’s imagination is failing. We need to recalibrate.

This is also the point.

Enjoy your evening, a final point. Even though climate change is bad, and the West Coast still burns, and weird weather still happens, it’s not the end. There are still sublime sunsets. There is still the wonder of a cool breeze. There may be less of them, but the birds and crickets are still singing. It may be a pair of mourning doves. They are there, and there’s still plenty of beauty among all the climate change sturm and drang.

Hang in there, people.

Is anybody out there?