Get Opinion in your inbox -- sign up for our weekly newsletter
Opinion L.A.
Opinion Opinion L.A.

Will global warming and an Antarctic ice melt ruin my marriage?

A climate-change uncorking in East Antarctica (and 10-foot rise in oceans) makes hubby rethink beach move
Opinion: The Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica is like a guy with a cold beer on a hot day
Opinion: Even if global warming is halted, it may be too late in the Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica

Ever notice how global problems and the it’s-a-small-world we actually live in sometimes collide? Take, for example, global warming — and my wife’s desire to live at the beach.

Like many men — and the planet, for that matter — there are competing forces at work in my life. First, my wife wants to leave our soon-to-be-empty nest in the safe (except for fires) foothills of Los Angeles and move to a sunny beach community in Southern California.

Which, other than the little hiccup that we can’t really afford anything in those areas, I am fine with. (Pay attention, young lovers: From such compromises spring marital bliss, or at least peaceful coexistence.)

Anyway, I was all set to start perusing the real estate listings — until this morning, when global warming reared its, uh, icy head. On Monday, I find this little tidbit: “ ‘Uncorking’ East Antarctica Could Mean 10 Foot Sea-Level Rise.”

Uh, oh. Honey, better hold off on that U-Haul.

Seems that scientists from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research say that the Wilkes Basin in East Antarctica is a kind of frozen water bottle. A rim of ice is now holding back a larger field of ice (don’t ask me how; I’m neither a rocket nor an ice scientist); should that rim of ice melt, the ice behind will start to melt too. And that would be bad.

Because, like a guy with a cold beer on a hot day, it won’t stop until it’s empty. Explained the lead author of the study, Matthias Mengel: “East Antarctica’s Wilkes Basin is like a bottle on a slant. Once uncorked, it empties out.”

Which brings us back to the 10 to 13 feet of sea-level rise. And my bride’s dream of a little cottage by the beach.

Do I tell her? Will she care? Worse, will she become a climate-change denier a la the Koch brothers, just so she can get what she wants? And if I go along, will that make me a fellow traveler in the “who cares if the world is going to hell in a handbasket, I’ve got mine” clique?

Fortunately, I may have time, or my lack of it, on my side.

According to Discovery News: “Computer simulations of the region show it would take 5,000-10,000 years for the basin to discharge completely.”

Meaning that — unless the other exciting discovery Monday about old mice being rejuvenated by blood from young mice becomes human reality in the next few years — I can probably go ahead and rent that beach shack.

But I’m not an eternal optimist. As Discovery News pointed out: “But once started, the basin would empty, even if global warming was halted.”

So, honey, better make that a one-year lease.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
Related Content
  • An L.A. May Day lament: It's too darn hot

    An L.A. May Day lament: It's too darn hot

    Ah, the first day of May! A time to bask in the splendors of spring, a time for maypoles and little girls with flowers in their hair and (if you're into that sort of thing) observances of International Workers' Day.

  • Climate change is here, now. Will the world act?

    Climate change is here, now. Will the world act?

    Crop yields are down, deaths from heat are up. A U.N. panel's report should be a call to action.

  • Opinion: Why 'God's authority' can't keep Kim Davis out of jail

    Opinion: Why 'God's authority' can't keep Kim Davis out of jail

    Good morning. I'm Paul Thornton, The Times' letters editor, and it is Saturday, Sept. 5. Labor Day is in two days, so here's a pleasant reminder to those of you whose employers observe the holiday: Remember not to show up to work on Monday. Here's a look back at the week in Opinion. Subscribe to...

  • The NLRB closes a labor loophole

    The NLRB closes a labor loophole

    Labor advocates have long complained about companies evading their responsibilities as employers by outsourcing essential work to contractors, which they then require to hire and manage employees almost as if they worked for the company directly. The National Labor Relations Board pushed back against...

  • Would President Huckabee or Cruz put their faith above their duties?

    Would President Huckabee or Cruz put their faith above their duties?

    There are many objectionable elements to the drama playing out in Kentucky, where a four-time married county clerk, citing her faith, has gone to jail rather than do the job she was elected to and issue marriage certificates recognized as valid by the U.S. Supreme Court. But the most egregious...

  • Bush vs. Trump, en Español

    Bush vs. Trump, en Español

    It's tempting to treat Donald Trump's claim that Jeb Bush “should set the example by speaking English while in the United States” as just another bigoted remark from a presidential candidate who infamously referred to Mexican immigrants as “rapists” (though he added that “some, I assume, are good...