Why it is hard to grasp climate change, by Elizabeth Kolbert,

by Ginosar  

“  ...the problem with global warming –and the reason it continues to resist  illustration, even as the streets flood and the forests die and the mussels rot on the shore- is that experience is an inadequate guide to what’s going on. The climate operates on time delay. When carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere, it takes decades-in technical sense, millennia- for the earth to equilibrate. This summer’s fish kill was product of warming that had become inevitable twenty or thirty years ago, and the warming that’s being locked in today won’t be fully felt until today’s toddlers reach middle age. In effect, we are living in the climate of the past, but already we’ve determined the climate future.

Global warming’s back–loaded temporality makes all the warnings- from scientists, government agencies, and especially, journalists – seem hysterical, Casandra-like –Ototototoi! –even when they are understated. Once feedback takes over, the climate can change quickly, and it can change radically. At the end of the last ice age, during an event known as meltwater pulse 1A, sea rose more than a foot a decade. It’s likely that the “floodgates” are already open, and that large sections of Greenland and the Antarctica are fated to melt. It’s just the ice in front of us that’s still frozen.”

Elizabeth Kolbert, Outstanding Ocean Scientist. THE NEW YORKER, Oct, 24, 2016,  after her second trip the Greenland

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