Antarctic ice loss vaster, faster than thought: study

Nov 22, 2009
The shore of Deception Island in Antarctica, in 2008. The East Antarctic icesheet, once seen as largely unaffected by global warming, has lost billions of tonnes of ice since 2006 and could boost sea levels in the future, according to a new study.

The East Antarctic icesheet, once seen as largely unaffected by global warming, has lost billions of tonnes of ice since 2006 and could boost sea levels in the future, according to a new study.

Published Sunday in Nature Geoscience, the same study shows that the smaller but less stable West Antarctic icesheet is also shedding significant mass.

Scientists worry that rising global temperatures could trigger a rapid disintegration of West Antarctica, which holds enough frozen water to push up the global ocean watermark by about five metres (16 feet).

In 2007 the UN Intergovernmental Panel for (IPCC) predicted sea levels would rise 18 to 59 centimetres (7.2 to 23.2 inches) by 2100, but this estimate did not factor in the potential impact of crumbling icesheets in Greenland and Antarctica.

Today many of the same scientist say that even if heat-trapping are curtailed, the ocean watermark is more likely to go up by nearly a metre, enough to render several small island nations unlivable and damage fertile deltas home to hundreds of millions.

More than 190 nations gather in Copenhagen next month to hammer out a global climate deal to curb greenhouse gases and help poor countries cope with its consequences.

University of Texas professor Jianli Chen and colleagues analysed nearly seven years of data on ocean-icesheet interaction in Antarctica.

Covering the period up January 2009, the data was collected by the twin GRACE satellites, which detect mass flows in the ocean and polar regions by measuring changes in Earth's gravity field.

Consistent with earlier findings based on different methods, they found that West Antarctica dumped, on average, about 132 billion tonnes of ice into the sea each year, give or take 26 billion tonnes.

They also found for the first time that East Antarctica -- on the Eastern Hemisphere side of the continent -- is likewise losing mass, mostly in coastal regions, at a rate of about 57 billion tonnes annually.

The margin or error, they cautioned, is almost as large as the estimate, meaning ice loss could be a little as a few billion tonnes or more than 100.

Up to now, scientists had thought that East Antarctica was in "balance," meaning that it accumulated as much mass and it gave off, perhaps a bit more.

"Acceleration of ice loss in recent years over the entire continent is thus indicated," the authors conclude. " may soon be contributing significantly more to global rise."

Another study published last week in the journal Nature reported an upwardly-revised figure for Antarctic temperatures during prior "interglacials", warm periods such as our own that have occurred roughly every 100,000 years.

During the last interglacial which peaked some 128,000 years ago, called the Eemian Period, temperatures in the region were probably six degree Celsius (10.8 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than today, which is about 3 C (5.4 C) above previous estimates, the study said.

The findings suggest that the region may be more sensitive than scientists thought to concentrations in the atmosphere that were roughly equivalent to present day levels.

During the Eemian, sea levels were five-to-seven metres higher than today.

(c) 2009 AFP

Explore further: NASA balloons begin flying in Antarctica for 2014 campaign

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vanderMerwe
2.7 / 5 (17) Nov 22, 2009
"The findings suggest that the region may be more sensitive than scientists thought to greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere that were roughly equivalent to present day levels."

And exactly how was it that such "roughly equivalent" greenhouse gas levels got in the atmosphere back then? I don't recall that there was an industrial civilisation around then to do the job. :-/
jonnyboy
2.5 / 5 (23) Nov 22, 2009
The margin or error, they cautioned, is almost as large as the estimate, meaning ice loss could be a little as a few billion tonnes or more than 100."

Doesn't this mean that their so-called "study" is totally worthless?
Loodt
2.3 / 5 (24) Nov 22, 2009
I don't believe a single word in this article, as it comes from the IPCC 'peer-review' stable!

350 years ago the Cape Castle was right on the waterfront, today it is about 2km's away from the sea, standing proud overlooking the present Cape harbour. Sea levels rising? Tell me another one!
dostalik
2.7 / 5 (6) Nov 22, 2009
How The Science Gets Settled:
http://www.google...9C441LG0
Roderick
3.5 / 5 (18) Nov 22, 2009
Are you any of you scientists? It is hard to believe ...

To answer VanderMerwe's question, yes, carbon dioxide has fluctuated dramatically during the last 500 million years. Causes include volcanic eruptions and changes in the carbon cycle.

However, the current pace of CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere has no historical counterpart.

Hi Loodt,

The IPCC is the world's body of scientists. It is not tiny group. The organization represents the prevailing consenus that you presumably want to dispute.

If you want to dispute, you are going to do better place prejudice on display ...

Hi Jonnyboy,

The study isn't worthless, but the size of the confidence intervals mean that one cannot draw strong conclusions from it. Essentially this study is a call to do more research.
RAL
3.1 / 5 (12) Nov 22, 2009
Not sure that any of the findings justify the alarmist language in the report. Based on a few years of data they say East Antartica could be losing from a few billion to 100 billion tonnes a year. The former would basically confirm that it was 'in balance'. The latter produces the scare scenario.

Yet beginning with the headline and continuing through the story, we get the usual dramatic 'we're all going to die' melodramatics that seems to continually eminate from this field.

The bottom line is indeed 'more research is needed', not 'vaster and faster' and here's the worst case scenario, omg omg omg. This isn't science, it's politics pure and simple, and increasingly recognized as such.
DeadCorpse
2.1 / 5 (18) Nov 22, 2009
How much of this ice is already over water? If it melts, how much will the "rise" in sea level be? The same as the ice melting in my Scotch glass?

Of the ice over land, how far up will the mantle rise when the weight of the ice is off of it. Think Duluth, MN in the USA after the glacier retreated there and the evidence of the mantle upshifting once the glacier retreated.

The hyperbole in some of these reports is getting tough to ignore...
cdt
2.9 / 5 (7) Nov 22, 2009
Of the ice over land, how far up will the mantle rise when the weight of the ice is off of it. Think Duluth, MN in the USA after the glacier retreated there and the evidence of the mantle upshifting once the glacier retreated.


So I guess we don't need to worry about Antarctica flooding, which is admittedly a great weight off my chest. But mantle upshifting in the antarctic can only make things worse for those of us living elsewhere. The water has to go somewhere after all, and not all of us can take comfort from the rebound from a local disappearing glacier.
theoldrang
2.7 / 5 (12) Nov 22, 2009
Since it is not limited to the British site...

Keep in mind, the Goddard Weather group was caught massively fudging data to prove October 2008 was hottest on record (false)

Since it is no where near unanimous, and since the Brits proved they have a systematised system, gov't funded at that, to discount,discredit, or ignore ANY data to the contrary, and outright lie and fake data to prove their agenda...

I tend to doubt the paid and colluding scientist out to promote a unilateral falsehood.

How many other 'scientists' involved will not be known for a while, since the fellow conspirators in the media and governments are hiding in ratholes hoping it will blow over before they get caught...

Luckily... The inter net is here to actually have their covers blown.

Please, don't defend the 'science' to us. Like the Canadian ice marker 'unknowingly' had been moving for years, or the confabulation about the polar bears dying on an iceberg at sea...only spotting distance away.
RJB26
2.8 / 5 (10) Nov 23, 2009
let me get this straight. On one hand we find out that agw "scientists" at CRU are engaged in nervous hand wringing as they admit to one one another that the only way to substantiate thier POLITICAL views is by lying about the data, performing "tricks" to "hide" the fact that mother nature isn't cooperating with thier ideology. While on the other hand, thier brothers in agw arms are hysterically trying to convince us the "ice sheets are melting, the ice sheets are melting"! Isn't this kind of contradiction getting difficult to defend at this point.
theoldrang
2.6 / 5 (10) Nov 23, 2009
Only if, like the 'scientists' you forget to mention the active undewater 1,000 mile long chain of volcanoes that are erupting, constantly, under the ice... but, that is just an oversight...
Diotrephes
Nov 23, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Sanescience
2.2 / 5 (13) Nov 23, 2009
Another attention grabbing headline invented for ratings for a weak article.
Alexa
2 / 5 (10) Nov 23, 2009
The problem is, temperature of oceans is still rising, despite the development of atmosphere temperatures. Maybe oceans are heated from bottom.

http://blogs.edf....emps.gif
Helio
1.8 / 5 (10) Nov 23, 2009
I don't believe a single word in this article, as it comes from the IPCC 'peer-review' stable!

350 years ago the Cape Castle was right on the waterfront, today it is about 2km's away from the sea, standing proud overlooking the present Cape harbour. Sea levels rising? Tell me another one!


More information please. You should not expect anyone else reading your comment to know where Cape Castle or Cape harbour is. So your claims cannot be verified.
Husky
3 / 5 (2) Nov 23, 2009
Everybody wants a clean environment but nobody wants to pay taxes. With all the fudged data flying around I am sitting on the fence, but leaning to the thought that a wobbly fence might be a bad place to sit if the hurricane moves in after all, so therefore think that nuclear is one of the very few options that will not hit general public in the wallet badly (wich is what makes this debate so hot really) while cutting co2 (just in case)
Doug_Huffman
1.8 / 5 (16) Nov 23, 2009
Yes, a "call to further research" until the desired conclusions are conclusively reached and at the public expense.

The UK CRU revelations have impeached GW-ists credibility. Science is not a body of knowledge but is a way of thinking. Unfalsifiable statements are not scientific.
pauldentler
2.4 / 5 (7) Nov 23, 2009
So why has there not been a corresponding rise in ocean levels?

I hear all about this "melting ice" and there should of course be an immediate rise in ocean levels to account to account for the "law of conservation of energy" which requires an "immediate effect" it cannot be a "lagging effect".
Going
2.5 / 5 (8) Nov 23, 2009
I find it incredible that some people will still believe you can fabricate the evidence for melting polar ice. The evidence is there in satellite photographs at both poles, you don't need statistical analysis of data.
vanderMerwe
4 / 5 (4) Nov 23, 2009
Roderick: Yeah, I am a scientist. In fact, I got my PhD doing modeling of radiation exchange in the atmosphere way back in 1991. What are your qualifications?
Loodt
2.1 / 5 (13) Nov 23, 2009
Helio,

Cape Town is one of the world's top 10 tourist destinations, and you haven't heard of it. Must be a very cloistered life you lead!

Use Google Earth, and you will see the Castle, pentagon shape, at the foot of Table Mountain. (Ever heard of that feature?)

In the Golden Acre, half-way between the Castle and the present day harbour they uncovered old clay pipes, and other seashore features that were used to replenish ships; it is open for view by the general public.
vanderMerwe
4.3 / 5 (6) Nov 23, 2009
Loodt: If the Cape Castle you refer to is the one in Capetown, South Africa, it is inland now because they've filled in the bay in front of it extensively in the past century, not because the sea has receded. I used to spend a lot of time in Capetown and even more in St James in False Bay. :-)


Helio: There were only two Cape Castles on offer. Google is a wonderful tool for answering questions like yours. Learn to use it. :-)
Loodt
1.4 / 5 (9) Nov 23, 2009
Hi Van,

There are 2 factors at play here:
-sea level riseS and falls
-Continental shift due to plate techtonics and movement due to release of Ice mass melt.

You know that the south of England is sinking and Scotland is rising, due to the mass of ice that covered Scotland melting later. And Sweden is rising, see reason for wells and waterlevels dropping.

The movement of the Cape and surrounds relative to the sea can be attribued to the same two reasons. And the one side of the Cape Castle was actually used as a port, build so that the guys in the Castle could escape as neccessary if required. It is above the mean sea level of the sea now.

Also check the Dutch report on seaward defences for the 21st century prepared 2008/9. The dykes have to be made taller for two reasons: Sea level rise, and landmass sinking!
joefarah
1.6 / 5 (13) Nov 23, 2009
There's a key problem with this article... We've been in a global cooling cycle since 2000. So we'd better attribute this to something else. BTW IPCC, we're 2-3% of the time frame through your 5m rise estimate - why don't we have 2-3% of the rise yet? Not a problem, just restate it with today's date and your credibility can be restarted. Or the other approach that you usually take will work... just claim that the oceans have risen in sea level by 10-15cm in the past 2-3yrs. That usually dupes a lot of people. Getting tired of that approach? No problem, introduce a melting cure that's low for the current decade and grows over time. And why is it that Al Gore bought a condominium in a building on the coast of SF which will have its entrance under water after this water rise? Probably so that he can participate in the suffering - right?
toyo
2 / 5 (8) Nov 23, 2009
I quote:
"During the last interglacial which peaked some 128,000 years ago, called the Eemian Period, temperatures in the region were probably six degree Celsius (10.8 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than today, which is about 3 C (5.4 C) above previous estimates, the study said."

What does this say about Anthropogenic CO2 causing the current 'global warming'? Not too many power stations or cars belching out CO2 in those days I dare say... :))
Clearly, if anyone here IS a scientist, it must give you pause.
Gents, don't just debate this here, if you want to see a study of contradictions and contra-indications, go to the (putative) most authoritative article of all, the IPCC Technical Summary of Working Group I, the group dealing with the basic scientific evidence.
Forget the rest, they are all dependent on the basic science.
Read it and weep.
joefarah
1.9 / 5 (14) Nov 23, 2009
Toyo - I would not trust anything at all from IPCC. They intentionally modify graphs to suit their agenda. They create and quote bogus references and they just don't do science. Instead, try: http://www.youtub...XmJ4jd-8 for an eye-opening Global Warming Hoax exposure.
3432682
1.5 / 5 (15) Nov 23, 2009
AGW theory is crumbling. The current situation is an intelligence test. Let's see who recognizes that the ship is sinking, and what they do about it. It is a measure of knowledge vs. belief.
toyo
2.1 / 5 (7) Nov 23, 2009
Toyo - I would not trust anything at all from IPCC. They intentionally modify graphs to suit their agenda. They create and quote bogus references and they just don't do science. Instead, try: http://www.youtub...XmJ4jd-8 for an eye-opening Global Warming Hoax exposure.


It's not a case of 'trusting'.
I read the IPCC report because that is the Holy Bible of the Anthropogenic Climate Change religion.
To understand a belief system you MUST read the source material.
That is why I read it.
And the summary findings are listed in the last eleven pages of that report (pp 81 to 91). It's not a lot to read and I strongly recommend everyone with an interest in 'Global Warming' to read at least those.
As I said before, they left me weeping.
I cannot believe that such contradictory statements can be ratified by scientists.
But don't listen to me, don't listen to ANYBODY!
Make up your own mind, read those 11 pages (at least)!
toyo
2.3 / 5 (6) Nov 23, 2009
... and, by the way...talking about the IPCC report, here's one finding of the Technical Summary of the IPCC Working Group I of the IPCC: Quote -
Page 81, TS.6 Robust Findings and Key Uncertainties.
TS 6.1 Changes in Human and Natural Drivers of Climate.
Robust Findings:
Current atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and CH4,
and their associated positive radiative forcing, far exceed those determined from ice core measurements spanning the last 650,000 years. {6.4} -
Unquote.

Now look above in this article, quote -

The findings suggest that the region may be more sensitive than scientists thought to greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere that were roughly equivalent to present day levels. -
unquote.

So EITHER the IPCC finding is true and the author of this article is incorrect, OR this article's author is correct and the IPCC report is... ??

elgin
4.2 / 5 (5) Nov 23, 2009
This April 2009 article states that Antarctic sea ice has been increasing for 30 years.
http://www.physor...096.html
I wonder how much sheet ice has accumulated during that time?

How many quadrillion tons of sheet ice are present now and what percentage of it melted since 2006? Is there still more sheet ice than there was in 2000? Is this just a normal flux? Or, is it the end of the world?
Helio
2 / 5 (8) Nov 23, 2009
Helio,

Cape Town is one of the world's top 10 tourist destinations, and you haven't heard of it. Must be a very cloistered life you lead!

Use Google Earth, and you will see the Castle, pentagon shape, at the foot of Table Mountain. (Ever heard of that feature?)

In the Golden Acre, half-way between the Castle and the present day harbour they uncovered old clay pipes, and other seashore features that were used to replenish ships; it is open for view by the general public.


A very arrogant answer from you (& vanderMerwe following). I did google it & found what I thought was possibly the building you refer to. And yes it was in Cape Town, which of course I have heard of.

Can I make the more general point for you that this is an international forum & it is common (even polite) to presume that local landmarks are not world renown? It is entirely reasonable for me to ask for more information and not suffer abuse in return.
Raritas
1 / 5 (4) Nov 24, 2009
order ..... ORDER! ..... :)
Ladies & gentlemen.
Let us imagine that our very audience are children.
I would like to introduce mine more extensively to learning & understanding. The issues that face us can potentially cause a large amount of avoidable suffering. OUR children need to be part of this understanding now. They may already know more about how to solve this problem than we thought. Time to listen to innocent wisdom or continue playing with dangerous toys?
joefarah
2 / 5 (12) Nov 24, 2009
Toyo - I saw the IPCC report. It's garbage. The CO2 charts are garbage. It does do what it set out to do... make you buy into the GW hoax. They pervert facts, lie, eliminate the middle ages warming (much more than today - but if we "knew" about it, we wouldn't be worried today). Take away the atmosphere of the planet, the temp rises by < 20C. All human history would not put a dent in that figure, let alone rise temp by 5C or more. DO NOT BELIEVE ME. Do real research. The IPCC published a graph showing CO2 levels are a result of temp, NOT vice versa. BUT, THEY PURPOSELY DECEIVED US by relabeling the temp and CO2 lines to make it look the other way around.
Please spend 30 min looking at my earlier video reference. Do NOT BUY INTO THIS HOAX.

Raritas: These same people "so concerned" for our children, banned PERFECTLY SAFE DDT, so 40,000,000 children would die from malaria instead of 2M. They don't care about our children. [ban reversed after 40 yrs - finally.]
VOICEOFTRUTH
Nov 27, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
VOICEOFTRUTH
Nov 27, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
marjon
1 / 5 (6) Nov 27, 2009
I saw a show about Antarctica discussing how a rivers of ice are flowing to the sea.
It was thought that the ice sheets were riding on a thin layer of liquid water. The question was why is the water between the ground and the glacier liquid? The global warming answer was heat from the surface was just now reaching the bottom of the glacier and melting the ice.
Another was volcanic activity was warming the land and a third, which was many not have been mentioned, which I just thought of, is pressure. Are the tones of pressure from the glacier sufficient to create the lubricating water?
For the last two reasons, atm warming plays no part, but they do seem to make some sense. Especially since liquid water lakes have been found in Antarctica.
Parsec
2.3 / 5 (3) Nov 28, 2009
I keep hearing people talk about temperatures decreasing since 2000. What is the source for that assertion? Just repeating it over and over won't make those melting polar ice caps refreeze. Just look at the damn satellite photos showing polar sea ice retreating. What do you think is causing that?
Parsec
2.3 / 5 (3) Nov 28, 2009
What do you deniers believe is causing the damage to the Alaskan coastline and villages sliding into the ocean? Except for a few glaciers at the tip of South America, nearly every glacier in the world is retreating. What is causing that?

Why are people suddenly catching fish that never ventured above the California/Oregon border off the Columbia river? Animal and plant ranges shifting, the tree line's for yew trees shifting higher in elevation. The list just goes on and on.

The essence of a rebuttal isn't to just wave your hands in the air and claim everyone is lying. There are too many scientists involved and too many thousands of verified reports to make that credible. You must come up with an alternate explanation for all the data.
marjon
1 / 5 (7) Nov 28, 2009
What do you deniers believe is causing the damage to the Alaskan coastline and villages sliding into the ocean? Except for a few glaciers at the tip of South America, nearly every glacier in the world is retreating. What is causing that?

Why are people suddenly catching fish that never ventured above the California/Oregon border off the Columbia river? Animal and plant ranges shifting, the tree line's for yew trees shifting higher in elevation. The list just goes on and on.

The essence of a rebuttal isn't to just wave your hands in the air and claim everyone is lying. There are too many scientists involved and too many thousands of verified reports to make that credible. You must come up with an alternate explanation for all the data.


How did the Vikings settle Greenland for hundreds of years with less atm CO2 than today?
Parsec
not rated yet Nov 29, 2009

How did the Vikings settle Greenland for hundreds of years with less atm CO2 than today?


That probably doesn't qualify as an alternate explanation for what is happening now. I do hope your not suggesting that temps were as warm as today's anytime in the last 1000 years. We have very good data from multiple sources demonstrating this isn't so. Or are you waving your hands and claiming that all that data doesn't count...
marjon
1.5 / 5 (8) Nov 29, 2009

How did the Vikings settle Greenland for hundreds of years with less atm CO2 than today?


That probably doesn't qualify as an alternate explanation for what is happening now. I do hope your not suggesting that temps were as warm as today's anytime in the last 1000 years. We have very good data from multiple sources demonstrating this isn't so. Or are you waving your hands and claiming that all that data doesn't count...

How can one trust such data?

The real casualty is not being able to trust scientists. I personally witnessed John Anderson from Harvard make a political pitch at a CalCon in Logan, UT. This was a conference about radiometric calibration of earth observing satellites, not AGW.

Unless there is new data, the NAS said any temperature reconstruction beyond 400 years ago is highly uncertain.
marjon
1 / 5 (5) Nov 29, 2009
"The substantial uncertainties currently present in the quantitative assessment of large-scale surface temperature changes prior to about A.D. 1600 lower our confidence in this conclusion compared to the high level of confidence we place in the Little Ice Age cooling and 20th century warming. Even less confidence can be placed in the original conclusions by Mann et al. (1999) that “the 1990s are likely the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year, in at least a millennium” because the uncertainties inherent in temperature reconstructions for individual years and decades are larger than those for longer time periods and because not all of the available proxies record temperature information on such short timescales."
http://books.nap....p;page=4
RJ32
1 / 5 (2) Nov 30, 2009
Based on previous experience with quasi-government agencies of whatever nature, I have learned to take their pronouncements with a very large amount of salt, dissolved in water or not. It is possible to take any amount of data and make it say whatever you wish. I forget who originally quoted it but it goes something like, "There are lies, damned lies and statistics".
bcal
1 / 5 (2) Nov 30, 2009
bull pucky - billions of tons? 1billions tons of ice = 1.69 cubic miles 1 billion tonnes melting gives you 1.69 cubic miles/137854500 square miles of ocean - 6.47 X 10(
bcal
Nov 30, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
bcal
1 / 5 (2) Nov 30, 2009
bull pucky - billions of tons? 1billions tons of ice = 1.69 cubic miles
1 billion tonnes melting gives you 1.69 cubic miles/137854500 square miles of ocean - 6.47 X 10(
bcal
1 / 5 (2) Nov 30, 2009
It's Truncating my comment What's up with that? billions of tons = .0007 inches of rise. Do the math.
VOICEOFTRUTH
1 / 5 (7) Nov 30, 2009
wohoho be afraid

manbearpig is coming to get you

wohoho
Parsec
5 / 5 (1) Dec 05, 2009
You can get any conclusion you want by cherry picking the data. I suggest that by tossing out everything to demonstrates climate change you are guilty of everything you accuse climate change supporters of doing.

Sitting around having pissing contests about who can be the most self-righteous accomplishes nothing.

It is all irrelevant anyway. It doesn't matter if AGW is real or not. We are breaking our planet. We must move to renewable resources or sizable parts of the human race will die. Whether its from drowning by rising seas, poisoning from polluted air/water, or starving from lack of food, dead is still dead.

So forget the debate. We must get real about what truly matters, and that is moving away from carbon based energy sources to renewable and sustainable resources like wind and solar.

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