The NY Times has put together a lovely illustrated story about data collection on Greenland. The story is prettily terrifying, though. The ice is melting, and forming lakes of liquid water on the surface of the ice cap, which then drains away in fast-running rivers that cut deeper into the ice and then drain into holes that run even deeper into the glacier — it’s a dangerous place, and if you fall in, you’ll be swept away and instantly dumped into a pit. It also means the ice sheet is porous and riddled with rot already.
In addition to the personal terror for the researchers, this work is about a process that’s going to affect us all.
But Mr. Overstreet’s task, to collect critical data from the river, is essential to understanding one of the most consequential impacts of global warming. The scientific data he and a team of six other researchers collect here could yield groundbreaking information on the rate at which the melting of Greenland ice sheet, one of the biggest and fastest-melting chunks of ice on Earth, will drive up sea levels in the coming decades. The full melting of Greenland’s ice sheet could increase sea levels by about 20 feet.
Is that scary enough for you yet? Hang on, there’s worse: our Republican congress.
But the research is under increasing fire by some Republican leaders in Congress, who deny or question the scientific consensus that human activities contribute to climate change.
Leading the Republican charge on Capitol Hill is Representative Lamar Smith of Texas, the chairman of the House science committee, who has sought to cut $300 million from NASA’s budget for earth science and has started an inquiry into some 50 National Science Foundation grants. On Oct. 13, the committee subpoenaed scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, seeking more than six years of internal deliberations, including “all documents and communications” related to the agency’s measurement of climate change.
I find the behavior of these Republican science-deniers unbelievable. There’s the obsessive derangement rivaling the Benghazi hearings, the appointment of unqualified know-nothings like Lamar Smith and Darrel Issa to play obstructionist games over scientific issues, and the abuse of legal strategies to harass scientists. Someday, we’re going to look back on this time as a period when the American government basically committed global crimes against humanity, as smiling rich fucks did everything they could to impose their ideological delusions on a dangerous reality.
But do read the NY Times article. The aerial views and maps of the ice sheet are gorgeous, and the field scientists are bravely carrying out important work, while the cowards and crooks of congress close their eyes and try to undermine that work.