20 more feet.

Most shocking thing I learned last weekend: A huge Antarctic ice shelf disintegrated over a 35-day period in 2002, much to the surprise of the scientists tracking it. This shelf, designated Larsen B, was about 700 feet thick and covered 3,500 square km — about the area of Rhode Island. The scientists who studied this came to the conclusion that it broke up so quickly because pooling water on the top of the shelf had actually tunneled down through the ice, perforating it and making it far weaker than its 700-foot thickness would indicate.

Now the same thing is happening on Greenland’s glaciers: Pooling water is tunneling through the ice, weaking it and causing it to crack and shift.

If all of Greenland’s ice were to melt into the ocean, sea level would rise by about 20 feet worldwide. That would put my house well under water — along with the houses of tens of millions of other people worldwide.

It’s safe to say that I came back from my two-day climate change training in Nashville with my hair on fire about global warming. Al Gore pumped us full of facts. Climate scientists answered our questions. National Wildlife Fund execs gave us tons of information on what people can do to reduce CO2 emissions and help avert even more massive climate change. We practiced presentation skills. And we trainees hung out together and bonded in the hotel lobby and in a variety of country-music bars downtown.

I’ve been to a lot of conferences where attendees are trapped in a hotel ballroom for days on end, but I’ve never been to one where I (along with everyone else) was actually eager to get back into that ballroom after each break. There was a lot of momentum building in that room, and it was stunning to see it and take part in it. I feel very lucky to have been there.

Now I have to spend some time mastering this material, and preparing and rehearsing the presentation that I will be giving to everyone and anyone who wants to hear it. What I’ll be talking about, come January, is the science of global warming (and I’ve got some truly stunning imagery to show, along with hair-raising statistics), plus the opportunities for people — and for companies — to do something about it.

Starting in January I will be giving presentations on climate change to any Bay Area audiences willing to listen. I’ll have 20-minute, 40-minute, and 60-minute versions of the presentation. And I will have a version tailored to the business opportunities in averting climate change as well as one aimed at individuals. If you’re interested in having me speak to your group, company, church, or other organization, drop me a line at my home email address: dylan at tweney dot com, or call me at 415-373-6003.

More to come soon.

20 more feet.

4 thoughts on “20 more feet.

  1. I found your blog using Google’s “news alerts.” I usually do not read the blog alerts but your’s just jumped out. Mostly because I had the same reaction as you…. Global warming … la..la.. la… Holy ^*(@&#$!! the Larsen B shelf gone in 35 days! That’s when I realized now was the time to start realtime monitoring of the ice shelf situation and make some lifestyle changes, fast. Two months ago I made the decision to move to the southwest to power my entire business and lifestyle with solar energy and biofuel. It doesn’t matter that I’m currently 1500 feet above sea level in Pittsburgh. I think we’ll have very little warning and the last place I want to be when the ice hits the fan is in a major metropolitan area. I’ll be telecommutting to work part time, and I’ll be growing food, milking goats, and making free energy. I doesn’t matter that I’ll start off in a lowly trailer, all resources will be directed toward becoming self sustaining. Question is… when the 35 day warning comes, who will be ready?

  2. Arvella says:

    Hi Dylan. Thanks for your report on the Climate Crisis training. I found out today that I’ve been selected for the Jan. 8 session with Mr. Gore & Co. I’m really really excited and really really nervous. I haven’t done a lot of public speaking recently, but I’ve got two kids and I’ve had chemotherapy, so nothing much scares me anymore — one exception being what the world will be like when my kids are my age. Good luck in the Bay. Keep us posted on how your mission goes, and we can compare notes. My campaign area is…Texas! where Global Warming is something only tree-huggin’ loonies believe in, so just call me a tree-huggin’, tomato-growin’ Prius-drivin’, compostin’ loony. And wish me luck!

  3. Mark, I’m impressed that you’ve pulled up roots and are making a complete lifestyle change. Based on what I know, though, the Southwest may not be a perfect refuge… you may have difficulty getting water if the temperature rises much and aquifers as well as snowmelt sources get used up.

    Also, it’s not realistic to think that the sea level will rise 20 feet in 35 days. All of Greenland is much, much larger than Larsen B was — and the ice is resting on land, instead of floating on top of the ocean. So a breakup of Greenland’s glaciers will take much longer. A few pessimistic projections forecast a 20 foot rise in sea level by the end of the century; many others predict much lower rises over the next 50-100 years. Of course no one knows for sure. One thing seems clear: it’s not too late to avert the warming trend, but it will require coordinated international action as well as lifestyle and energy use changes by individuals.

    Arvella, congratulations on being selected! The program is great, and I learned a huge amount. If you’ve faced chemo you have more stones than me. You will do great — and, not that you need it, but good luck to you as well!

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