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Even if we stop emitting greenhouse gasses, it is too late to reverse the damage done — the Greenland ice sheet is beyond saving, according to a new study published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment last Thursday, based on a review of more than 30 years of satellite data. “We’ve passed the point of no return but there’s obviously more to come,” author Ian Howat of Ohio State University told CNN. “Rather than being a single tipping point in which we’ve gone from a happy ice sheet to a rapidly collapsing ice sheet, it’s more of a staircase where we’ve fallen off the first step but there’s many more steps to go down into the pit.”
Why This Matters: The perfect metaphor for the climate crisis. We have fallen off the first step and we can’t stop, but we don’t know how bad it will feel as we keep falling, and falling, and falling. The bottom line is that Florida and other coastal areas are going to be under water and there is no stopping that — we must adapt. The three feet of sea-level rise predicted will cause major damage and disruption to the 40% of Americans who live in areas that are vulnerable.
Greenland’s Ice Going, Going
Studying four decades of satellite data, the study’s authors were able to make some rather stunning conclusions, as reported by CNN. For example:
Greenland’s ice sheet is “retreating in rapid bursts, leading to a sudden and unpredictable rise in sea levels, making it difficult to prepare for the effects.”
After 2000, “the ice sheet shrank so rapidly that replenishing snowfall would not keep up with the rate of melting from parts of the glacier newly exposed to warmer ocean water.”
“All 200 glaciers that make up the Greenland ice sheet have been observed retreating.”
Greenland icemelt is the largest contributor to global sea-level rise — as Ecowatch put it, what happens in Greenland does not stay in Greenland. National Geographic has a new documentary premiering next month that looks ahead to what will be the “Last Ice” areas in the Arctic.
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have hit a three-million-year high, according to a World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report published yesterday. Despite a brief dip in emissions in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the overall trend of increasing emissions continues, indicating last year’s dip had little to no impact on […]
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer A report in the Dasgupta Review shows that by using a fiscal lens to view Earth’s growing biodiversity loss, we can see how it links to economic development. By viewing nature as an asset like “produced capital (roads, buildings and factories)” or “human capital (health, knowledge and skills)” — […]
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer While coal use is a leading source of greenhouse gas emissions, another industry is set to outpace it: plastic. A new report from Bennington College and Beyond Plastics estimates the plastic industry emits over 232 million tons of greenhouse gases each year, the equivalent of 116 coal-fired power plants. […]
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