06 March, 2006

36 cubic miles

So, the Antarctic ice sheet is drizzling 36 cubic miles of fresh water into the Southern Ocean every year, is it?
The findings... are a concern because the ice sheet would increase sea levels by as much as 45m (150ft) were it all released. The West Antarctic ice sheet, where the bulk of the melting is taking place, holds water that would raise the sea level by more than 6m (20ft).
This compares with Los Angeles, a profligate city of 12 million people, using one cubic mile of water per year. Not to mention that the instruments used to detect this change work by noting changes in the Earth's gravitational field.

For some reason, people seem to think this is bad news. I prefer to see the upside. For example:
  • In the United States alone, the country's national Environmental Protection Agency estimates that drinking water and sewer projects over the next couple decades could cost $1 trillion. With most of the older system inundated in seawater, these expenses will be unnecessary.
  • With New Orleans underwater, we will be able to quit worrying about whether to rebuild or not.
  • As people from seaside regions around the world are forced to move inland, we will finally have a global reconciliation of "heartland" and "coastal" values.
  • Hell, there's nothing important along the coast anyway.

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