Antarctica: ...and still it melts
President Trump announced his decision June 1 to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement on Climate, signed by 195 nations and formally joined by 147, including the US. The United States now joins Syria and Nicaragua as the only nations in the world not supporting the accord. Nicaragua, it should be noted, failed to join because the terms of the accord are not binding, and it was therefore considered too weak. Syria is consumed by internal war, and was iced from the negotiations by restrictions on its envoys traveling to the talks. The agreement, which seeks to limit global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels, came into force on Nov. 4, 2016, just days before Trump was elected. Each country sets its own commitments under the accord. The United States, second-largest emitter on the planet after China, had committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 26 to 28% below 2005 levels by 2025. It also commited up to $3 billion in aid for poorer countries to address climate change by 2020. (ENS, June 2; NYT, June 1; WP, May 31)
Ominously, Trump's announcement comes just as scienists report that s massive crack in an Antarctic ice shelf has grown by 11 miles in the past six days—with one of the world's biggest icebergs ever poised to break off. The crack in the Larsen C ice shelf is now about 120 miles long, and only eight miles remain until it cuts all the way across, producing an iceberg about the size of the state of Delaware.
Adrian Luckman of Project MIDAS, a British research project that is monitoring crack, said this week saw the largest jump since January. The breaking point, known as "calving," is now said to be "very close." Once the iceberg breaks off, it "will fundamentally change the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula." (USA Today, CNN, Gizmodo, June 1)
This development comes as a "shockingly green" landscape across parts of Antarctica as warming temperatures allow moss to flourish. (The Weather Channel, May 30)