The Bad News from Tom and Jerry

Eliz­a­beth Kol­bert is becom­ing the New York­er writer I most dread read­ing. In the most recent issue she describes the find­ings of a pair of satel­lites, nick­named Tom and Jer­ry, which have been chas­ing each oth­er around the plan­et for the last cou­ple years mea­sur­ing the mass of the Antarc­tic ice sheet.

Every esti­mate we’ve had of poten­tial glob­al-warm­ing-induced sea-lev­el rise over the past decade has been based on the pre­sump­tion that while the Antarc­tic is los­ing ice at the edges, it’s being com­pen­sat­ed by increased snow over the con­ti­nent.

Tom and Jer­ry say it ain’t so. The Antarc­tic is los­ing ice over­all. Add that to the news of the unex­pect­ed­ly fast pace of melt in Green­land, and I start to won­der if those of us liv­ing in the Nether­lands need to start think­ing about a move to hgher ground soon­er rather than lat­er.

The con­ser­v­a­tive media machine is already in full spin. Since deny­ing Glob­al Warm­ing is now begin­ning to wear thin as a strat­e­gy, they’ve adopt­ed a new tack: So there’s gonna be pover­ty, and floods, and extreme weath­er — we should deal with those issues direct­ly rather than the CO2 prob­lem. Kol­bert deli­cious­ly describes this as the equiv­a­lent of treat­ing dia­betes with dough­nuts.

I wish the New York­er would keep The Talk of the Town online. They don’t, but this was from the March 20th issue. Eliz­a­beth Kobert’s book, “Field Notes from a Cat­a­stro­phe: Man, Nature, and Cli­mate Change,” just came out.

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