The future is here, sooner than expected. As reported by NASA and the New York Times on May 12, two independent reports in the journals Science and Geophysical Research Letters confirm melting of glaciers in West Antarctica. This retreat may also be unstoppable.
Why is this important? It's not every day you see the future staring you in the face. Here it is. The shrinking of the polar ice (Arctic and Antarctic) is connected to global warming, which is being intensified by human activity.
Fortunately, the rate of glacier melting would be gradual enough to give us time to prepare for the rise in sea levels and increased moisture in the atmosphere. Phil Plait explains on Slate.com, that this slow-motion meltdown would take centuries, over 200 years.
Those of us alive today probably won't be around to see the eventual results. Imagine new coastlines. New maps. Where are the Maldives? What happened to New York?
It's not that long, in geologic time. This is a critical moment for all of us alive here now. This is what global warming looks like--
rising sea levels
more extreme weather ---drought in some places, heavy rains and flooding in others
growing seasons and crops affected
bees and other pollinators affected
deforestation, habitat loss
more severe weather ---typhoons, tornadoes, hurricanes
disturbance of the jet stream, displacement of the polar vortices.
(from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report--courtesy of Friends of the Earth)
Climate changes, but catastrophe can be avoided. Can we change before it's too late?
This is not science-fiction (although J.G. Ballard explored this scenario in "Drowned World" over 50 years ago). But science- fiction can offer a larger perspective. It's about the future, and the world we share. This world of people and cities, trees, bees, mountains and oceans. We are all here, on Spaceship Earth.
"We travel the Milky Way together, trees and men." John Muir
You can read another forecast for the future here.
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