Melting that Matters.

Arctic sea ice. Yellow line marks the 30-year avg. minimum sea ice computed from 1981-2010.
Arctic sea ice. Yellow line marks the 30-year avg. minimum sea ice computed from 1981-2010.

Our fridge began beeping insistently in the middle of the night. I dragged myself out of bed and plodded into the kitchen. Squinting in the dim glow, to avoid disruption of meticulously cultivated circadian rhythms, I managed to identify the source of the alarm: apparently I’d turned off the freezer while loading the ice compartment earlier in the day.

It’s an absurd first-world scenario of the highest order, of course; I shudder to think of the 1.1 billion people globally who lack access to electricity never mind refrigeration that beeps when it malfunctions; to whom mention of circadian rhythms is a scathing indulgence because they are sleeping outside in the muck.

As I stood there on my thankfully dry floor of designer cork in the dark, staring at my silenced Bosch, I was reminded of a video that popped up on my Twitter feed recently, about a research scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Mike MacFerrin is a Greenland ice sheet researcher at CIRES, which is a science-institute partnership between NOAA and CU Boulder.

If you live in a coastal city north of the equator on the Atlantic Ocean, you want to know about Mike’s subject.

In brief, and in language anyone can understand: the massive ice sheets that have covered Greenland for millennia are now melting. And they are melting fast: more rapidly than anyone expected, increasing projections for sea-level rise in major cities like New York, Boston, and Miami. If the entire 684,000 cubic miles of Greenland’s ice were to melt, global sea levels will rise 24 feet. Which gets the attention of property owners in posh places like Nantucket, Palm Beach, and the Hamptons. Click here and here for more information.

We’ve all heard for years that ice is melting around the world due to global warming, with Bermuda-sized chunks breaking off Antarctica, and glaciers disappearing, etc. etc.; but all this seems pretty remote if you haven’t seen it for yourself. Most of us listen, gasp, and then back we go to our usual routines, ordering designer lattes and driving home from work—and to this, Mike says: “I WISH I COULD JUST SCREAM AND LET EVERYBODY KNOW HOW BIG THIS IS!”

Have a look:

Mike is part of More Than Scientists, a scrappy organization of climate scientists that presents a vigorous call for climate action—and a convincing alternative to the funded denial currently stunting unanimous public “belief” in climate science and clogging sweeping action on solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Subscribe to their YouTube channel, follow them on Facebook and Twitter, and follow Mike @IceSheetMike.

Next time you add ice to your martini, may you be reminded of the melting disaster to the north and be freshly energized to insist on climate solutions. After all, those of us who are fortunate enough to sleep on clean sheets and know where our next meal is coming from have a special responsibility to act with expedience and bravado, for others who are in the dark or already under water.

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