In 1988, a NASA scientist named James Hansen issued a dire warning to the U.S. Congress. As The Guardian recounts, Hansen said that “with 99 percent confidence” he could confirm that an alarming spike in global temperatures stemmed from human activity. Had Greta Thunberg been around back then, she would have urged the world to listen to this scientist. But Hansen’s concerns fell on deaf ears. In the 30 years that followed, governments paid lip service to combating the threats posed by climate change. But officials didn’t change their words into meaningful actions.
In the meantime, the world’s oceans have increasingly eased into the role of the slowly boiling pot of water that gradually kills the complacent frog inside. In 2020, engineering professor John Abraham told Vice that the amount of heat absorbed Earth’s oceans in 2019 was tantamount to “about 5 Hiroshima bombs of heat, every second, day and night, 365 days a year.” That liquid warmth has had a massive impact on the planet, and, sadly, not even the iciest place on Earth can beat the heat.
Now is the winter of your dis-continent
Antarctica is supposed to be an iceberg masquerading as a continent. It clocks the coldest temperatures on Earth, per Live Science, with an eastern ice ridge reaching as low as negative-148 degrees. That might be the lowest temperature the planet is capable of. But from the sound of things, Antarctica may lose that capability in the future. Per the Associated Press, in 2020, an Antarctic base recorded a temperature of 64.9 degrees Fahrenheit (18.3 degrees Celsius). That appears to be unprecedented.
That potentially record high temperature marks a new low for the cold continent. Over the previous five decades an estimated 87 percent of the glaciers on Antarctica’s west coast have receded. Much of the continent’s ice loss is caused by the warming oceans, according to NASA. Even if humanity isn’t breaking into a cold sweat over this pattern, Antarctica almost certainly is.
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