Well, more data on climate - all of it rotten. First, here's the thing I couldn't give you yesterday on 2007 warming trends - look carefully at the graphs.
And second, the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is showing much more melting than had been anticipated. Yet again, the data is becoming outdated as fast as it comes in - not by new projections, but by new, concrete reality. That should be worrisome.
"Rignot said the tonnage of yearly ice loss in Antarctica is approaching that of Greenland, where ice sheets are known to be melting rapidly in some parts and where ancient glaciers have been in retreat. He said the change in Antarctica could become considerably more dramatic because the continent's western shelf, an expanse of ice and snow roughly the size of Texas, is largely below sea level and has broad and flat expanses of ice that could move quickly. Much of Greenland's ice flows through relatively narrow valleys in mountainous terrain, which slows its motion.
The new finding comes days after the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said the group's next report should look at the "frightening" possibility that ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica could melt rapidly at the same time.
"Both Greenland and the West Antarctic ice sheet are huge bodies of ice and snow, which are sitting on land," said Rajendra Pachauri, chief of the IPCC, the United Nations' scientific advisory group. "If, through a process of melting, they collapse and are submerged in the sea, then we really are talking about sea-level rises of several meters." (A meter is about a yard.) Last year, the IPCC tentatively estimated that sea levels would rise by eight inches to two feet by the end of the century, assuming no melting in West Antarctica."
Finally, I liked this essay a lot. The "Bystander Effect" is a real phenomenon - and it is hard to say "I'm the best person to act" - but it is also necessary. Perfect understanding is not required, commitment is.
"So, on the train, the boy was loudly identifying this as a true emergency, his mother physically demonstrating the urgency of the matter. Still everyone sat there, mouths open. Half of them had cell phones clipped on their belts, but not one of them was dialing 911. No one was running to get the conductor. Remember this fact; although we feel safer in a crowd, that's actually where humans are most incapacitated. The bigger the crowd, the stronger the effect.
In some of the later Bystander-Effect experiments, the subjects have blood pressure cuffs on and what they say is recorded. Their pulse races, their blood pressure rises. They mutter, 'shit,' and 'holy hell.' From their reactions it's clear they recognize what's happening as an emergency and feel great urgency about it. Still, they stand there, frozen.
Right now everyone understands something truly horrible is happening to the planet's climate. The heat waves and forest fires, the floods and droughts. But there's six billion of us now.
Quite the Bystander Effect. So we stay in our seats filling out forms, working dutifully, trying to ignore the smoke swirling thicker around us. We mutter under our breath, our hearts race, while we wonder why no one else is doing anything.
With the people on the train watching the woman convulse, each of them glanced around and believed everyone else must be sitting still for a good reason. Perhaps the others had some inside knowledge, that this was a movie being filmed or a scam being tried or that the kid was just playing some sort of mean joke.
Each person also thought, if this were real, then surely with 40 other people here, there should be someone who knew how to deal with seizures. There must be someone competent, with professional training and a medical vocabulary. Each person assumed, 'I should be the last person to help. I don't know dinky about seizures.'
Thinking this way, a whole group of adults will passively watch a child screaming for someone to help his mother.
And thinking this way is also how we can bustle about our normal lives, feeling increasingly uneasy about the shifting climate, but assuming it couldn't be as bad as it seems because surely then everyone would be marching in the street about it. And if it were real, then there must be someone better than us at getting others to demonstrate against it. We don't know dinky about activism."
I think it is easy to get hung up on endless debates about whether personal action or political action are more important, etc...etc... Such debates are pointless - the two are deeply interconnected. Few of our personal choices don't reverbate in the public world - our shopping is voting with our dollars. Our voting is shaped by our personal experiences. I don't know many people who follow this news who aren't simultaneously working publically and privately. What we need is integration of both spheres.
But more than that, we need to shake off the sense of paralysis that says that the right people are coming along to fix this in time. The right people are the ones who are here now.