Following the first week of the New Year, this past week was pretty mellow for the Earth. Part of the reason why is that the topic of climate change has been pushed to the back burner as the transition between politicians is gobbling the media’s spotlight. Meanwhile, parts of the Earth are still dying and collapsing due to man-made activities, so let’s take a look at that.
- An ice shelf on Antarctica is severely cracked and a segment is likely to break loose within the next few months. The long-term consequences of losing this chunk of ice include a sea level rise of 10 cm.
- Sea level rise will eventually be catastrophic for some places, such as the Maldives and Alaska. NASA is busy mapping out where and how. The Maldives, which is an archipelago of islands in the Indian Ocean, is among the most affected – 80% of their land is just at a meter above sea level – and they are very worried (check out this underwater cabinet meeting held in 2009 to call attention to the urgency of the matter). There are already climate change refugees, even here in the US, and they tell a powerful story.
- The nominee for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, said on Wednesday that climate change was real and”could be serious enough that action should be taken”. I think that the former president of the Maldives might agree and add that the climate change threat has already been serious enough that people are taking action. Tillerson also said that our ability to predict how man-made greenhouse gas emissions affect the environment is “very limited”. In affirming with a 90-99% certainty that our present climate change driving force is anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, I believe that the IPCC (the United Nation’s International Panel on Climate Change) would disagree with him also. The IPCC also said in their latest report that sea levels will increase from 28 – 99 cm – that worst case scenario means 80% of the Maldives will be underwater.
- The world’s largest tropical peatland has been discovered in the Congo basin. Peatlands are a carbon sink, meaning that they trap carbon. They are best left intact, as burning them or drying them could release a lot of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Wondering what you can do to help? To help reduce your own carbon dioxide emissions, you can eat less meat, walk more, and live local. Help protect the Earth – inform yourself, act, and inspire others!