Antarctic Melt And Calls For Action

With new research showing that a 10-foot rise in oceans may be unstoppable, we hear a strong call for a carbon tax to take on global warming.

This undated handout photo provided by NASA shows the Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctic. Two new studies indicate that part of the huge West Antarctic ice sheet is starting a slow collapse in an unstoppable way. Alarmed scientists say that means even more sea level rise than they figured. (AP)

This undated handout photo provided by NASA shows the Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctic. Two new studies indicate that part of the huge West Antarctic ice sheet is starting a slow collapse in an unstoppable way. Alarmed scientists say that means even more sea level rise than they figured. (AP)

The latest news from Antarctica is deeply sobering, and will be for a long time.  A great ice sheet there, melting.  That melt, unstoppable.  Painful sea rise will follow.  Climate change is deeply implicated.  And there are more dominoes poised to fall.  More glaciers and ice sheets poised to melt on a warming planet.  Climate scientist James Hansen says if we ever needed an urgent prompt to action, this is it.  He wants a carbon tax, that would kick up the price of fossil fuels, discourage their use, encourage alternatives.  This hour On Point:  a hellish melt, and the fresh call for a carbon tax.

— Tom Ashbrook


Ian Joughin, professor of earth and space sciences at the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory.

James Hansen, professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Former director of the NASA Goddard Institute For Space Studies.

Frank Ackerman, senior economist at Synapse Energy Economics. Lecturer on environmental policy at MIT. Author of “Priceless: On Knowing the Price of Everything and the Value of Nothing,” “Poisoned For Pennies: The Economics of Toxics and Precaution” and “Can We Afford the Future? Economics for a Warming World.”

Marlo Lewis, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

From Tom’s Reading List

Science: Marine Ice Sheet Collapse Potentially Under Way for the Thwaites Glacier Basin, West Antarctica — “Resting atop a deep marine basin, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has long been considered prone to instability. Using a numerical model, we investigated the sensitivity of Thwaites Glacier to ocean melt and whether its unstable retreat is already under way. Our model reproduces observed losses when forced with ocean melt comparable to estimates.”

New York Times: The Myriad Benefits of a Carbon Tax — “Yet one of the best ideas for advancing all of those goals – and also heading off catastrophic climate change — isn’t even on the table. I refer to a carbon tax, which would impose a price on emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.”

The Economist: Do economists all favour a carbon tax? — “arbon emissions represent a negative externality. When an individual takes an economic action with some fossil-fuel energy content—whether running a petrol-powered lawnmower, turning on a light, or buying bunch of grapes—that person balances their personal benefits against the costs of the action. The cost to them of the climate change resulting from the carbon content of that decisions, however, is effectively zero and is rationally ignored. The decision to ignore carbon content, when aggregated over the whole of humanity, generates huge carbon dioxide emissions and rising global temperatures.”

Jill Abramson Speaks To Wake Forest University Grads: “I’m In The Same Boat As Many Of You”

Jill Abramson, former executive editor of the New York Times.

Transcript Of Abramson’s Speech


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