After grading 45 essays this weekend, it remains a wonder that I learned anything new. I did, sadly, once again find a few plagiarizers, but I also read some good essays on which students had obviously spent time.
As a person extremely interested environmental issues, I belong to several environmental organizations and read a lot about related issues. Here are some of the things I have learned either recently or in the last few days:
-June and July were the warmest June and July on record and the 14th and 15th straight months in which such records have been set.
-Thawing permafrost near the Alaskan Highway has caused it to sink in places.
-In Siberia the same thawing has caused the release of deadly bacteria–anthrax to be specific.
-This past summer, toxic algae affected waterways in states as diverse as California and Utah. It does not smell all that wonderful either.
-In Alaska so many wolves have been killed that naturalists can no longer research them in their natural state.
-The Republican Platform claims coal is a clean source of energy.
-Hot summers have caused Douglas fir trees to quit growing.
Recently, my posts discuss a lot about Ice Ages, climatology, and global warming. Most of it focused on the Arctic. Apparently researchers in Norway and Germany think another vulnerable area is East Antarctica specifically the Wilkes Basin. It stretches over 600 miles (1,000 km) inland and is vulnerable to thawing because only a tiny rim of ice on bedrock holds it in place. If oceans warm and this rim of ice melts, the Wilkes Basin could break lose and melt. Because the Wilkes Basin slants and this small rim of ice lays below sea level, once unplugged, it cannot reverse.
Antarctica is the size of the United States and Mexico combined. If it ever melts, sea levels would rise 188 feet (57 meters). Do not worry. It will take 200 years for this plug to the Wilkes Basin to melt. Those of us alive now won’t have to worry about seas rising that high. However, it does not take much sea level rise to decimate many of our current large cities. Already, in recent years New York City, Miami, and New Orleans have experienced immense economic flood costs. Even if the seas rise a little more than seven inches by 2050, the following cities are expected to suffer huge economic losses: Havana, Houston, Santo Domingo, Port au Prince, Baranquilla, Mumbai, Kolkata, Marseille, Istanbul, Athens, Beirut, Tel Aviv, Naples, Alexandria, Athens, Algiers, and five cities in China, including Shanghai. The latter may explain why suddenly China has taken an increased interest in global warming and how to curtail it.