Thursday, January 11, 2007

You Want Scale? We'll Give You Scale

Antarctica is losing ice. The rate of loss, according to researchers at the University of Colorado, in Boulder, who analyzed changes in the continent's gravitational pull, is around thirty-six cubic miles per year. (For comparison's sake, the city of Los Angeles uses about one-fifth of a cubic mile of water annually.) ... If the loss continues, it will mean that predictions for the rise in the sea level for the coming century are seriously understated.

--"Chilling," by Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, March 20, 2006.

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More Analogies We Wish We'd Thought of

There is a very broad consensus in the scientific community that global warming is under way. To the extent that there are conflicting views, they are usually over how exactly the process will play out ... To focus on the degree of disagreement rather on the degree of consensus, is, I think, fundamentally misguided. If ten people told you your house was on fire, you would call the fire department. You wouldn't really care whether some of them thought that the place would be incinerated in an hour and some of them thought it would take a whole day.

-- Q. & A., "A Planetary Problem," The New Yorker online, interview with Elizabeth Kolbert.

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