Come year end and prognosticators abound. Dire portents from the pessimists and the reverse from the optimists; from disasters of one kind or another to the stock market going sky high.
necessarily in 2022, yet there is the possibility with global warming
of a melting Greenland ice cap or the Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica.
The latter is the size of Florida, and its collapse has the potential of
rising sea levels by 10 feet. Imagine the effect when almost 250
million people live just 3 feet above high-tide levels.
difference between Greenland and the Antarctic is that Greenland's
glaciers are on solid ground and melt from above due to warmer
temperatures; the Antarctic ice shelf melts from the bottom due to
warmer ocean water. As it is eaten away from the bottom it
destabilizes. Cracks begin to form on the surface, a harbinger of
collapse, and eventually massive chunks of ice shear off and fall into
the ocean. Like adding ice cubes to a drink, it does not have to melt
to raise sea levels.
is almost impossible to predict when chunks will collapse but some
cracks have been observed. In 2019, satellite images revealed a massive
block of ice 15 by 21 miles cracking up in a few days. Scientists from
the International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration reported on cracks and
fissures in the glacier's ice shelf, predicting its fracture within
five years and disappearance into the sea in less than a decade.
there is the case of forest fires and in particular the fire in
Colorado that has been in the news. A fire in December is certainly
unusual because the fire season runs from May to September although
extended to November of late due to global warming. The rest of the
time the trees are too wet to sustain a fire and any small fires started
by broken power lines or lightning strikes during storms tend to
extinguish on their own.
the devastating wildfire that has swept through the Denver suburbs is
unprecedented, as Governor Jared Polis observed. He has declared a
state of emergency thereby permitting access to disaster funding. The
fast-spreading fire left residents in commuting suburbs like Superior
very little time to evacuate and nearby roads were soon clogged with
traffic. Fortunately, to date, no deaths have been reported and no
serious injuries although three people are still missing. A substantial
loss of property however, as around a 1000 houses have been destroyed.
About the only explanation for a changing equation for natural
disasters is global warming. It affects weather patterns, rain and
snow, drought and floods.
hear no loss of life or serious injuries and we move on to the next
news story. Yet it is not too difficult to imagine the trauma of
families standing in front of a heap of ashes, who have had their life's
memories swept away in a couple of hours. Nothing left except the
clothes covering them.