Rapid Ice Melt in the Antarctic Could Doom Louisiana | The Times-Picayune


Unusual iceberg near the Rothera Research Station on the Antarctic Peninsula. (Andrew Shepherd/University of Leeds via AP)

Anyone truly concerned about the future of Louisiana’s bottom third should know how to read national headlines using a Bayou Country translation. That’s because what might not be big news in Kansas (or even Shreveport) could be a death notice for someone living below Interstate 10.

And last week those headlines were scary, indeed, for our coastal residents and industries.

The first: “Antarctic ice loss has tripled in the last decade.”

Bayou Country Translation: Most of the land south of U.S. 90 will be flooded by 2065 if the Antarctic melting pace continues.

That translation is rooted in the science compiled by Louisiana’s own 2017 Coastal Master Plan. Using the best science available, the state has determined sea level rise driven by global warming will flood at least another 1,200 to 2,800 square miles of our bottom third by 2067 — even if the state finds the funding to build the projects in that $92 billion effort.

How much we lose, the plan states, depends largely on how successful the world is in reducing greenhouse gas emissions produced by human use of oil and coal. The rising temperatures are causing ocean waters to expand and the vast ice sheets in Antarctica to melt.

Antarctica is the key to our survival because 60 percent of the planet’s fresh water rests on that continent in a mass of ice seven miles thick. Researchers have been measuring its slow melt for decades and have projected how much sea level will rise if those rates continue, or even increase.

 The latest research shows those findings were wrong – and the projections much too optimistic.

A thorough recalculation using the latest technology to review current research shows the melt rate increased threefold between 2012 and 2017 – and shows no signs of slowing down.

It means the world has even less time to make good on the Paris Accords to dramatically reduce emissions over the next 20 years. Indeed, the new paper says the world has about 10 years to get the job done or see coastal areas like Louisiana swallowed by the oceans before the end of the century.

That reaffirms the warnings in our 2017 Coastal Master Plan – as well as the wisdom of our GOP-dominated Legislature in unanimously endorsing that plan. It says we are in a race with emissions to save most of the industries and communities below I-10. An illustration on Page 106 of the plan shows the risk in living (deadly?) color.

All of which brings us to last week’s second scary national headline for Louisiana: “Trump wants to bail out coal.”

Bayou Country Translation: President Donald Trump and his GOP Congress to south Louisiana: Go drown!

Read the rest of the article at The Times-Picayune.