Environmentalists are often accused of enjoying "doom and gloom." This makes no sense, if you think about it for a second or two. No one accuses Republicans concerned about Islamic extremism of wanting to see another 9/11. Why should environmentalists who revere the beauty of this planet be accused of wanting to destroy it?
Nonetheless, this is one of those ideas that seems to have inserted itself in our body politic, like a tick half-absorbed. Only by going directly at it can enviros hope to dislodge this calumny.
In this spirit, let me bring up some remarkably good news from Antarctica.
According to radar survey published yesterday in Science, researchers now believe that a massive undersea ridge has trapped 7 million cubic miles of floating ice in West Antarctica. Based on computer simulations, Dr. Richard Alley and his colleagues at Penn State University believe that it would take an enormous rise in sea level — 33 feet — to break this ice free.
"Small sea level changes don’t kick the ice sheet very much," Alley told the Los Angeles Times. Given that 90% of the world’s ice is to be found in Antarctica, this is good news for the more than 50% percent of Americans who live near the shore, not to mention the rest of the world.
Note that Alley is not a skeptic about climate change. He was one of four scientists who testified earlier this month on the topic to the House Committee on Science and Technology. When asked about the latest IPCC report on global warming, he said that "the quality of the science is just superb," adding that "we are getting to the pound-on-the-table stage." He made a fist and pounded lightly on the table to emphasize the point for the TV cameras.