Year 3, Month 2, Day 14: What Are You Going To Believe? Me — Or Your Own Lying Eyes?

The Christian Science Monitor reports sorta kinda not really very good news:

U.S. scientists using satellite data have established a more accurate figure of the amount of annual sea level rise from melting glaciers and ice caps which should aid studies on how quickly coastal areas may flood as global warming gathers pace.

John Wahr of the University of Colorado in Boulder and colleagues, in a study published on Thursday, found that thinning glaciers and icecaps were pushing up sea levels by 1.5 millmetres (0.06 inches) a year, in line with a 1.2 to 1.8 mm range from other studies, some of which forecast sea levels could rise as much as 2 metres (2.2 yards) by 2100.

Sea levels have already risen on average about 18 centimetres since 1900 and rapid global warming will accelerate the pace of the increase, scientists say, threatening coastlines from Vietnam to Florida and forcing low-lying megacities to build costly sea defences.

Have another beer. Sent February 9:

The climate prognosis is bleak; while glaciers aren’t melting quite as fast as predicted, our planet’s polar regions are severely weakened.  It’s unlikely that they will recover in our lifetimes or those of our children, for the damage they’ve sustained from the burgeoning greenhouse effect is very severe.

Unfortunately, it’s very likely that the talking heads populating our airwaves and news outlets will seize on this news, brandishing a decontextualized nugget of information (“The glaciers are going to be fine!”), extrapolating incorrectly from it (“All the doom-sayers were wrong!”), confusing the discussion (“You can’t trust scientists — they’re often mistaken!”) and advocating for inaction (“Don’t worry, be happy — and keep buying gas!”).

The news that her tumors are metastasizing more slowly than expected is good news for a lung cancer patient, but it does not change the severity of the diagnosis — or provide an excuse to resume smoking.

Warren Senders

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