Antarctica hasn’t always been ice free in times of global warming but alas, it’s certainly melting now. Parts of the ice sheets covering Antarctica are melting even faster than predicted. NASA scientist James Hansen says that we have to hold our greenhouse gas emissions to 350 parts per million carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The problem is, we’re ALREADY at 383 parts per million.

In the January 14 edition of the Independent, Steve Connor writes that “a satellite survey between 1996 and 2006 found that the net loss of ice from Antarctica rose by about 75% as the movement of glaciers towards the sea speeded up.” Researchers think that Antarctica lost 83 billion tons of ice in 1996 and 132 billion tons of ice in 2006, 10 years later, meaning that the melting is accelerating.

The melting speed will get even faster in the future. Connor quotes climatologist Eric Rignot as saying, “As some of these glaciers reach deeper beds, their speeds could double or triple, in which case the contribution to sea-level rise from Antarctica could increase quite significantly beyond what it is now. Many people suspect Antarctic ice to be immune from changes. We are finding this is not the case.”

In the December 28th edition of the Washington Post, Bill McKibben quotes Hansen as saying, “The evidence indicates we’ve aimed too high?that the safe upper limit for atmospheric CO2 is no more than 350 ppm.” McKibben writes that the burgeoning Chinese economy is the main problem and says, “?the Chinese aren’t going to stop burning coal unless we give them some other way to pull people out of poverty. And we simply may have waited too long.”

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