"We as people see it as closing doors and limiting our future choices. Most of us personally like to keep those choices open.”
Centuries from now, a large swath of the West Antarctic ice sheet is likely to be gone, its hundreds of trillions of tons of ice melted, causing a four-foot rise in already swollen seas. Scientists reported last week that the scenario may be inevitable, with new research concluding that some giant glaciers had passed the point of no return, possibly setting off a chain reaction that could doom the rest of the ice sheet. For many, the research signaled that changes in the earth’s climate have already reached a tipping point, even if global warming halted immediately.
Richard Alley is Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences at Pennsylvania State University and a Mentor of the Gary Comer Abrupt Climate Change Fellowship.