West Antarctic ice sheet melt – “It has passed the point of no return.”

Another alarming piece in the NYT today on the Antarctic ice movement and its decline.

“Today we present observational evidence that a large sector of the West Antarctic ice sheet has gone

Its melting and becoming unstable faster than predicted.

Its melting and becoming unstable faster than predicted.

into irreversible retreat,” Dr. Rignot said in the NASA news conference. “It has passed the point of no return.”

The contribution of Antarctica melt to accelerating Greenland ice sheet melt water is more than alarming as the assumption that Antarctica would be slow to melt is incorrect.  The heat-trapping gases could destabilize other parts of Antarctica as well as the Greenland ice sheet, potentially causing enough sea-level rise that many of the world’s coastal cities would eventually have to be abandoned.

“If we have indeed lit the fuse on West Antarctica, it’s very hard to imagine putting the fuse out,” Dr. Alley said. “But there’s a bunch more fuses, and there’s a bunch more matches, and we have a decision now: Do we light those?”

Hopefully we as a globally community can avoid lighting these remaining fuses. If we don’t, there may well be a demonstration of ecological overshoot resulting in a large reduction in the number of human inhabitants on earth starting in a 100 years from now.

How do we transition to a sustainable and stable civilization that leverages the limitless human creative and technological capacity that is responsible for the quality of life we currently enjoy?

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