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Sunday Media Reviews: Ice

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Here at the EDM Digest, we’ve discussed ice from time to time over the past few months. The prevailing wisdom is that our warming earth will continue to cause glaciers to shrink and land ice to melt, contributing to sea level rise. How much? One meter by 2100 (which would get New Yorker’s feet wet); Ten meters by 2100 (which means no more Miami)? No one knows. What we DO know is that however the spectacle plays out, the results aren’t going to be pretty. There are already climate refugees fleeing for their lives all around the world. We have a few climate refugees here in the US, mostly fleeing from drought. But if we have more than a meter of sea level rise, then we will have the entire cities of Miami, probably New Orleans, and to some extent New York city, on the move to higher ground. That won’t be a pretty sight.

What HAS been–and continues to be–a pretty sight has been our documentation of the ice loss in progress. To set the stage, here is the largest glacier calving event ever captured on film:

(video courtesy of Youtube)

Listen to the awe in the photographers’ voices as they begin to understand what’s playing out in front of them.

James Balog, a longtime documentary photographer and videographer, places this and other similar events into context in his TED talk:

(video courtesy of TED)

So it’s happening. Ice is melting; sea levels are rising; probably no one at this point is going to be able to do anything about that. Ice loss is what is known in the financial world as a [link url=”” title=”lagging indicator“], which is just fancy talk for the idea that when a result shows up, the cause is something that happened already. In other words, recognition comes too late. While we DO have the ability to still prevent many of the other impacts of climate change through divestment of the burning of fossil fuels, some sea level rise is baked into the system. That’s something we’re going to have to live with and adapt to.

How do we adapt? We learn. Here are a few resources that will help with your learning.

Planning for coastal communities: [link url=”” title=”Planning for Coastal Resilience: Best Practices for Calamitous Times“] by Timothy Beatley.

Climate change is predicted to increase the frequency and magnitude of coastal storms around the globe, and the anticipated rise of sea levels will have enormous impact on fragile and vulnerable coastal regions. In the U.S., more than 50% of the population inhabits coastal areas.

Resilience … is a profoundly new way of viewing coastal infrastructure—an approach that values smaller, decentralized kinds of energy, water, and transport more suited to the serious physical conditions coastal communities will likely face. Implicit in the notion is an emphasis on taking steps to build adaptive capacity, to be ready ahead of a crisis or disaster. It is anticipatory, conscious, and intentional in its outlook. (courtesy of

Legal aspects: [link url=”” title=”Adapting to Sea Level Rise in the Coastal Zone: Law and Policy Considerations“] by Chad McGuire.

The book includes an analysis of sea level rise adaptation strategies that examines the legal impacts of coastal land use decisions based on the current interpretation of private property rights in relation to public control over those rights. The author discusses the science behind sea level rise and highlights policy complexities and options. He then presents an overview of related legalities, and bringing it all together, applies the principles offered in the book, concluding with strategies and solutions and a perspective on the future. (courtesy of

And for scholars: [link url=”” title=”The Ice Age“] by Jurgen Ehlers, Philip Hughes, and Philip Gibbard.

This book provides a new look at the climatic history of the last 2.6 million years during the ice age, a time of extreme climatic fluctuations that have not yet ended. This period also coincides with important phases of human development from Neanderthals to modern humans, both of whom existed side by side during the last cold stage of the ice age. The ice age has seen dramatic expansions of glaciers and ice sheets, although this has been interspersed with relatively short warmer intervals like the one we live in today. The book focuses on the changing state of these glaciers and the effects of associated climate changes on a wide variety of environments (including mountains, rivers, deserts, oceans and seas) and also plants and animals. (courtesy of

Note: EDM Digest does not endorse

So enjoy this missive during your coming week. Particularly enjoy the videos, and go to Youtube and TED to find more. And when you find you need to know more about sea level rise, check out the books. Happy learning!

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