Much scarier than the sequester

Mesmerizing video of glacial melt in Antarctica

On the eve of the implementation of the sequester, when across-the-board, indiscriminate slashes in federal spending take effect, mainstream economists like Fed chairman Ben Bernanke and Nobelists Paul Krugman and Joe Stiglitz predict a downturn in the sluggish economy. Of course, the cuts translate into lost jobs, but no one knows how many. There are estimates of 700,000 to 1.14 million jobs lost. (Many of the specific cuts here.)

There is good reason to be concerned.

If you have read this far, you will be wondering why this post begins with an extraordinary video that captures a glacier as it breaks off and its mountains tumble and crash into the Antarctic Ocean.

It’s there to emphasize that though the human cost in pain and suffering of the sequester will be significant, the effects of global warming and climate change will be catastrophic for everyone on the planet. It’s already beginning (think Hurricane Sandy).

Ocean levels are rising worldwide, starting to reclaim coastal land. More than half of the American population lives within 50 miles of the coast, and most of the world’s cities are located by the sea. Scientists agree that global warming is causing glaciers and polar ice sheets to melt.

The graphic below shows the accelerating rate of glacial decay. It took the whole 20th century for the glacier to retreat eight miles. But from 2000 to 2010, it retreated nine miles. In 10 years it retreated more than in the previous 100!

The glacier lost more in 10 years than in the previous 100

The glacier lost more in 10 years than in the previous 100

Spectacular screen grabs from the video:

Glacial crevasse

Glacial crevasse

Glacier boundary collapsing
Glacier boundary collapsing

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Filed under economy, Environment, Global Warming, Politics

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