Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Antarctica and the Anthropocene

Bill McKibben tweeted this morning that 
An iceberg with twice the volume of Lake Erie has broken off the Larsen Ice Shelf, 'leaving the continent forever changed'
The other night I watched a Luc Jacquet documentary Antarctica: Ice and Sky. What's makes this documentary, which covers the career of renowned French glaciologist Claude Lorius, worth watching is that by the time it is finished you will never harbor any doubts about the reality of climate change.

Lorius pioneered the method of accurately measuring prehistoric temperatures by deep drilling ice cores. He was able to confirm that the Earth undergoes periodic climate change (ice ages), but what the planet has been experiencing the last 100 years is like nothing else in Lorius' vast trove of ice cores. Man has changed and is changing -- radically -- the Earth's natural systems (what's known as the "Anthropocene"). 

What adds to the impact of Lorius' message is the scope of the science involved. Spanning decades, marshaling the logistical support of several nations (the footage of the Soviet Antarctic camp is awesome), this is not some fringe pursuit the validity of which can be disputed. This is the best that governments have to offer. There should be a Nuremberg trial for political appointees like Scott Pruitt, Trump's EPA chief, who recently announced to a bunch of coal company lobbyists that he will be fielding a team of climate-change deniers to "test" the academic consensus.

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