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

Will global warming and an Antarctic ice melt ruin my marriage?
In an image provided by the Norwegian Polar Institute, ice core driller Lou Albershardt of the Norwegian-American Scientific Traverse of East Antarctica is seen in Antarctica. (Stein Tronstad / Associated Press)

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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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