March 07, 2006

Greenland: Still Melting

Eve of the Apocalypse points to an article by the director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies about the accelerated melting of Greenland's ice sheet:

A satellite study of the Greenland ice cap shows that it is melting far faster than scientists had feared - twice as much ice is going into the sea as it was five years ago. ... This new satellite data is a remarkable advance. We are seeing for the first time the detailed behavior of the ice streams that are draining the Greenland ice sheet. They show that Greenland seems to be losing at least 200 cubic kilometers of ice a year. It is different from even two years ago, when people still said the ice sheet was in balance.

... How far can it go? The last time the world was three degrees warmer than today - which is what we expect later this century - sea levels were 25m higher. So that is what we can look forward to if we don't act soon. None of the current climate and ice models predict this. But I prefer the evidence from the Earth's history and my own eyes. I think sea-level rise is going to be the big issue soon, more even than warming itself.

... How long have we got? We have to stabilize emissions of carbon dioxide within a decade, or temperatures will warm by more than one degree. That will be warmer than it has been for half a million years, and many things could become unstoppable. If we are to stop that, we cannot wait for new technologies like capturing emissions from burning coal. We have to act with what we have. This decade, that means focusing on energy efficiency and renewable sources of energy that do not burn carbon. We don't have much time left. ...

The sentries are shaking us by the lapels, begging and screaming as they try to tell us. "It's coming. It's coming, dammit, save yourselves while there's still time!"

Trust me, that's what they're saying. If you speak Science, or even if you are a human being instead of an Ostrich in a human costume, it is easy to translate.

But you see, it's the Ostriches that are the problem. Bush is such an Ostrich. You can tell because of the neck, he has to keep it folded down into his collar so that it looks too thick to ever be mistaken for an Ostrich neck. He was forced, reluctantly, to sponsor the Manimal Cloning Ban in order to put reporters off the scent of his shameful origins. It is the true reason why he has such severe emotional problems, even moreso than his mother expressly forbidding him to mourn his sister as a child; not even her Chosen bloodline could overcome the incompatibility with the Ostrich DNA. The Chosen have no time to mourn for the fallen in the course of their task to prepare the world for the leadership of Nietzsche's Superostrich (what, you didn't read his secret diaries?) and the Great Culling.

Bush, the Ostrich president, captured on film as he looks for a piece of furniture he can stretch his neck out under.We should all give his staff members more credit. It can be hard to work for an Ostrich at times. It can try the soul. Every time they read him disturbing news, his Ostrich self takes over and he runs around the Oval Office putting his head under things. If he is very distressed, he will extend his neck once he's under something sufficiently large, so that in order to talk him out one has to go to the side of the furniture opposite where his rump is sticking out. As you could imagine, that is actually a small blessing for his staff.

One day, they hope to get him to sit still through his entire global warming briefing. This is what they mean by "more study," and if you know that their boss is an Ostrich, it's easy to see what they mean. When they achieve their goal, they are confident that he will finally do something about it.

Credits: The BBC brings us this rare footage of the Ostrich president, captured on film as he looks for a piece of furniture he can stretch his neck out under. Tom Burka inspired the Ostrich thing.

Posted by natasha at March 7, 2006 08:29 AM | Environment | Technorati links |

Would that it were a laughing matter. But wait, didn't our ostrich consult with an expert? Oh, it consulted with a novelist.

Having quite a bit of experience with his work, and no finding myself with a bit of time on my hands, 'ore the weekend I perused State of Fear in search of what I knew would be the real story. I wasn't disappointed. It's not about global warming, which I think he did a pretty fair presentation of both sides. No, as the title suggests, it's about Fear. Calculated manipulation of public fear via The So-Called Liberal Media. Seventeen paragraphs either at the end of section two or beginning of section three (maybe three and four).

Nary a word about Bavarian Monks...

Posted by: Thomas Ware at March 7, 2006 09:51 AM

When was the world last three degrees warmer? If we're talking geologic time scales, the movement of continents could have been a bigger factor than temperature in changing sea level. On the other hand, geologic scale temperature increase in the space of mere decades is quite scary in itself.

Posted by: felice at March 7, 2006 02:51 PM