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What a title, “Poles: Ice Melting Irreversible”.  I don’t like writing ‘catastrophe’ headlines. Sensationalism is not a good way to get one’s message across.

Pine Island Glacier meltdown due to warmer waters circulating under the bordering ice shelf

Pine Island Glacier meltdown due to warmer waters circulating under the bordering ice shelf. Photo credit.

The above is not my headline. It was that of an article in ‘Le Point’ a weekly, similar to Time magazine, here in France. It didn’t make the front cover (which was actually dedicated to Sergey Brin and Googleplex). The irony of this is that the sub-title for the Google article is entitled, “Inside Google’s Brain‘ is ‘Meeting with the new architects of the world… in their secret laboratory‘.

The Googleplex is in Mountain View with an altitude of 30 meters, just a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean, just 50 kilometers South of San Francisco practically atop the San Andreas Fault. The article about the Poles with the ice melting irreversible situation (discussing water rising in meters, not centimeters) was buried (maybe that a bad choice of verbs) in a two page spread on pages 94-95 in the Science section. Sergey Brin got 15 pages (including some publicity) and wound up between ‘Society’ and ‘Economy’ which I thought was quite apt. This article focused on robots, drones, organizing the world’s languages and information as well as artificial intelligence with the idea of creating a ‘better world’.

I’m not trying to be sarcastic about this. Google’s goals are certainly praiseworthy, they are devoting vast amounts of their resources to the improvement of society and I certainly wish them as much success as possible.

This scenario is there and I wouldn’t doubt that it would make a good Hollywood movie. Google versus the Poles.

I realized I wrote about the West Antarctica in January 2015, just four months ago with an image entitled: West Antarctic Glaciers–Past the Point of No Return. Again, that wasn’t my title. But I did think it might be a little too soon to be writing about this again. Maybe readers would think I have some program or an axe to grind.

As you probably know there’s the next big, really big Climate conference scheduled in Paris for the first two weeks in December of 2015. The objective is nothing short of achieving a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world.

In attendance will be 196 UN member states of which only 37 have so far submitted reports on what their commitments will be to maintain temperature increases to 2°C for 2050.

At a preparatory conference: Business and Climate, French President; Francois Hollande recognized the difficulty of reaching, let alone, signing such an agreement when even in France there’s no consensus.

Imagine the unimaginable: 196 countries coming to one accord.
He admitted it would be a miracle.
But, he also said he thinks it can be accomplished.

Highlights of the Business and Climate conference can be read online here.

The Explanation reports on world affecting events like climate control and irreversible ice melting conditions insofar as they are phenomena where man is directly involved. We’re in this situation because man is trying to ‘raise his standard of living’. We’re trying to earn more so we can have a better way of life. And in so doing we’re destroying that very life we wish to improve.

It’s that very paradox that The Explanation addresses. Why can’t mankind see eye to eye, whether it be in a suburb, city, nation or worldwide… on issues that deal with fundamental questions of life? Giving these fundamental answers is the quest The Explanation has set itself. How to ‘earn a living’ and ‘live life’ is the paradox mankind must solve if we’re to live in peace and harmony.

But let’s return to ice melting.

Ice Meltdown Acceleration

Measurements in the Antarctic over the past few years have confirmed the acceleration of the meltdown but one of the questions scientists always face is ‘why’? What’s causing this meltdown acceleration? We’ve always known that 90% is immersed and we now know that maybe 90% of the activity is taking place underwater.

Referring to the image above, notice the floating ice shelf. This is a border of ice surrounding a glacier that is formed by ‘ice rivers and runoff’, it’s actually flowing ice that comes off the elevated glaciers forming a protective barrier, a buttress for its outskirts. It’s the ‘sloping edge’ as compared to the ‘sheer cliffs’ of ice we sometimes see carving themselves away from these glaciers that can reach up to 3000 meters in altitude.

Whereas the glaciers actually ‘sit on’ solid land, often, like a nail, driven downward, under sea-level, due to the sheer weight of the ice, the ice shelves sit on water.

Climate change has warmed up the waters and even modified ocean currents so that this warmer water circulates beneath the ice shelf, melting it away and causing the underwater base to recede more and more.

This causes not only the edges of the ice-shelf to carve off creating icebergs, but even more seriously ice shelf collapse in which literally square kilometers of the glacier collapse into the ocean. This is known as ice melting and shelf collapse and you can see this happening to the Larsen B ice shelf on this page.

In the last few months, this activity has now 100% confirmed by the use of ‘remotely operated vehicle’ (ROV on the above image) that send live video footage and measurements of what is taking place: the warm water flow causing the ice melting and receding of the underpinnings of the Antarctic Glaciers. The same phenomenon is taking place in the Arctic around the Greenland ice fields.

At the above Business and Climate conference Segolene Royal, France’s minister of ecology, talked about the worsening situation from climate change, indicating that heatwaves, droughts and floods could adversely affect crop growth. “We already now have three times more climate refugees than there are people fleeing armed conflict … By some estimates Africa could have 50 million climate refugees by 2060.”

Our inanimate world does affect the animate world. Climate conditions do affect humankind and mankind does affect climate conditions.

Have you understood this equation? How these two phenomena tie together? How do you fit them into your worldview? Subscribe to The Explanation, in the right column, or below.


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