Who Let the Catastrophe Out of the Bag?
Earth warming, ice melting, seas rising, umpteenth study says
Cutting greenhouse-gas emissions could — maaaaybe — stave off a catastrophic rise in sea levels that in coming centuries could return the earth to conditions last seen 129,000 years ago. We would never have guessed, but fortunately scientists keep pointing it out — as in this week’s climate-disruption-centric issue of the journal Science. One study in the issue suggests average temperatures could rise 4 degrees by 2100. The resulting melt in Greenland and West Antarctica could irreversibly raise ocean levels 13 to 20 feet in coming centuries — but curbing atmospheric carbon in the coming decade might delay the worst of it. A second study suggests that more frequent “glacial earthquakes” in the bedrock below Greenland’s two-mile-thick ice sheet are most likely due to surface melting. “People driving big old SUVs to their favorite beach or coastal golf course [should] start to think twice about what they might be doing,” says University of Arizona researcher Jonathan Overpeck, lead author of the sea-levels paper.