Opinion: Melting ice

POSTED: 11/9/12 12:39 PM

Long term thinking is not the strong point of our decision makers – at least that is our impression. Seldom do you hear something about a vision for St. Maarten in, say, 2035, even though that is only a bit more than twenty years away. So should we not have a plan in place for that time?

We got this idea when we read in a Dutch newspaper that the melting ice mass in Greenland could double its contribution to rising sea levels in the next fifteen to thirty years. It’s only a prediction of course, and since Diederik Stapel we know that not all scientists are on the level, but still.

If we remember correctly our prime minister was in Greenland not too long ago but she never mentioned anything about melting ice caps. Maybe our PM did not want to cause a panic in Philipsburg.

An international team of ice cap researchers – a profession that is bound to disappear if global warming gets its way – worked for years in West-Greenland and arrived at its rather alarming conclusion.

About half of the melt-water of the land-based ice in Greenland does not end up in the ocean at the moment because the water dribbles into fluffy snow where it freezes again. The buffer of this snow is filling up rapidly, the scientists warn.

The buffer has a capacity left of between 300 and 1,300 gigaton. If the melting process continues the way it does now, the buffer will be filled to capacity in about fifteen years. If conditions change for the better, it could take thirty years.

The United Nations climate panel predicts that sea levels will rise between 20 to 70 centimeters by the year 2,100, in part due to the melting ice in Greenland.

All politicians that are in a decision making position right now will be long gone by the time the you-know-what will hit the proverbial fan.

A worst case scenario – with sea levels elevated by 70 centimeters – will not leave St. Maarten untouched. One would think that governing is looking ahead, and that there would be at least some committee looking into this development.

What was that expression again? We don’t inherit the earth from our forebears, we have it on loan from our children. Is there at least someone out there capable of making a drawing that shows what Philipsburg and Simpson Bay will look like when the sea comes marching in?

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