Written By: - Date published: 12:17 pm, April 13th, 2018 - 35 comments
Categories: Environment, global warming, science - Tags: , ,

Speaking for myself…when I try to think of Antarctica, then besides all those beautiful images I’ve seen, and besides having no real idea what minus a hell of a lot feels like, all I have is words like “vast” – or “forever”. And that’s about it. In other words, I can’t grasp it – I can’t comprehend the scale of the place.

So when I hear that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is melting, all I can conjure up is images of what might constitute “melting” (pools of water, calving events)…and then blank.

The West Antarctic Ice Sheet covers an area of just under 2 million square kilometres? – blank.

The thickness of the ice covering Western Antarctic is up to 2000m or 2 km thick? – kinda blank.

When the West Antarctic Ice Sheet disintegrates it will raise sea levels by about 3m….now, that I can kind of envisage, at least in terms of my locality.

In an attempt to get some kind of conceptual grasp of what we’re referring to when we talk of Antarctica, I tried to think of something I might at least partially “get” that I could sit alongside it in terms of scale.

So I did a quick search to see what land area is covered by cities, thinking that might give me some vaguely graspable reference point. I mean, we’ve all seen the aerial views of New York, and many of us have traveled through endless kms of conurbation, right?

So anyway, the land area covered by all of the worlds urban development is about 3.5 million square km. That’s according to a study done by Columbia University that some are saying is a huge over-estimate in terms of area.

Regardless. If I take every single urban experience I’ve had, be it London, Paris, New York or Auckland, and I add beside that, Shanghai, Mumbai, Tokyo, Buenos Aires…then when I’ve finished tallying up all the endless horizons of concrete and steel, (images provided) I can fit the whole damned lot on to West Antarctic and Greenland (the other major source of sea level rise) and still have half a million square km of ice left over.

That’s ‘everything built’ by humanity fitting onto the surface area of ice that’s currently melting.

I can get that conceptually. Sort of. All of that ice melting is like all of our cities dissolving (or some such). Except, not quite. We need to do something with  what this mega city comprised of concentrating all the world’s cities/built up areas into one place looks like.

The ice on Antarctica (Western) is up to 2km thick. (Greenland ice is between 2km and 3 km thick) The Twin Towers were just over 500m tall. So take every piece of built up area (the suburb you live in – Everything) and imagine there is nothing except Twin Tower after Twin Tower after Twin Tower – and then multiply the height x2…or x3 to get some rough approximation of the volume of ice we’re talking about.

Now compromise the foundations of all those exaggerated “Twin Towers”. They’ll stay standing…for now. But their collapse isn’t a matter of ‘if’, but ‘when’. That’s essentially the state of affairs for the Western Antarctic under current climatic conditions.

The IPCC and all government reports on sea level rise acknowledge that ice melt from Western Antarctica has not been taken into account when they say there might be a 1m rise in sea levels this century. That’s about 3m of additional sea level rise that’s been waved off to the side.

And here’s the fun bit.

Whereas it has been suggested that such a colossal amount of ice would take thousands of years to melt down (as though we were talking of some big ice cube just melting off into the ground), when researchers take processes like “ice cliff failure” (max possible height for an ice cliff being about 100m) and hydro-facturing – (think water and crevasses) – and factor them into modeling, then the collapse of the West Antarctica Ice Sheet occurs over decades, not centuries, and certainly not thousands of years.

And we know the fuse has been lit.  Exactly like having  compromised the foundations of the buildings in our imaginary city, the only thing we don’t know (and probably can’t ever know in advance) is when the collapse will begin

If you’re reading this and thinking that scientists have just modeled for a worst case scenario, and so have exaggerated some processes to get a nice OMG! result, you’d be wrong. What they have done is made the models emulate the known conditions from the last time the world’s atmosphere contained this much CO2 – three to five million years ago during the Pliocene when temperatures were around 2 – 3 degrees C warmer and sea levels about +25m higher.

By the way, there was no irony intended when I suggested  looking at expected ice melt in terms of all of the worlds cities falling over. But it’s there,  given that the foundation (however defined) for many of those cities will be knocked out by rising sea level.

35 comments on “Ice”

  1. james 1

    A website I found that is really interesting helps with the idea of size.

    Antarctica is big – but not as huge as maps would have us believe.!MTczMDcwNTY.MTU5MTc0*MzYwMDAwMDA(MA~!AQ*MTIxMDIzNDk.MjA3NTY3Njg)Mw

    The site is a lot of fun to play around with.

    • Matthew Whitehead 1.1

      Depends which maps you’re using. Mercator makes it look giant. Actual globes give you both its real shape and size, but there are also other 2d projections that don’t glom Antarctica into a big mass in order to preserve straight latitude and longitude lines at the same time. (that is to say, the traditional map you’re thinking of that that site uses is made for sailing)

      It’s bigger in current area than Australia and New Zealand put together, although might not be post-melt?

    • cleangreen 1.2

      That’s right James;

      Just make fun of the true seriousness of the catastrophe we are facing as you appear to be yet another dumb climate change denier.

  2. johnm 2

    Rignot says the WAIS will totally collapse and melt. View youtube for his stuff.

  3. AsleepWhileWalking 3

    Antarctica is far more beautiful than people realise.

    Loyd Homer (GNS photographer) did these amazing shots about 20+ years ago. I’m telling you it looked like National Geographic stuff. Haven’t seen them since.

    Would be nice to see some before and after shots if only to wake everyone up.

  4. JohnSelway 4

    Thank god! I saw the image and thought, “The twin towers? Please don’t be about 9/11”!

  5. timeforacupoftea 5

    Thanks Bill that information relieves my conscious somewhat.

    ( The thickness of the ice covering Western Antarctic is up to 2000m or 2 km thick ).

    Here I was thinking for the last 10 years catastrophe coming !
    Cripes ! that ice is 2000 meters thick. ( Thinking thats not going to melt )

    It would take Genzebe Dibaba to run the women world record for 2000m : 5:23.75 , 2/7/2017

    Here I thought it can’t be many years now and we will have a loverly beach 100 meters from home.
    My home’s altitude is 50 meters.

    But thats not going to happen.
    So I am over climate change, our climate here in Dunedin has nearly changed every year that I have been alive 1950.

    I must go fill my carbon burning beast and drive many kilometres before the Gov’t stops importing oil products.
    Meantime I will enjoy life and leave it to my 30 odd year generations later down the track deal with it.
    I am sure they will be well educated and free from fees etc to do that.

    • Bill 5.1


      I really wish people would read and comprehend before commenting.

      If an ice cliff cannot be higher than 100m before losing its physical integrity, what do you think happens when the edge of the ice is being asked to soar 1km into the air, or 2 km into the air, or even 300m into the air?

      You think it melts?!

      It collapses. And the geology of WAIS sits below water.

      What amount of water gets displaced by floating ice, and what difference does it make whether that floating ice melts or not?

      • Matthew Whitehead 5.1.1

        Also, in addition to water displacement as more of the ice moves into the water, post-collapse it will have absolutely increased the exposed surface area of the ice, which combined with temperature, (we’ve already sorted that increasing for both air and water with global warming) is what determines melt speed, (and collapsed ice WILL melt so long as there’s a reasonable chance it moves northward) so it will lead to a sharp initial rise in sea levels that Bill notes, plus a slower rise (but still faster than models that hadn’t factored in collapse) as the melting accelerates from more of the ice touching warmer air or water instead of other ice.

        As Bill notes in the post, this isn’t catastrophizing, it’s models being refined to better reflect real-world physics.

        • Bill

          The air temperature in Antarctica, unlike in the Arctic, isn’t really increasing – the libido effect of the continent is intact.

          Antarctica (West Antarctica) is being “taken out” from below by warmer ocean temperatures, not warmer air temperatures.

          And since the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is grounded well below the water line, and because the ground slopes down and back away from where the ice is presently resting on bed rock, it means that processes of disintegration won’t stop and worse, will accelerate.

          edit – I just found it useful to conceptualise the collapse in terms of everything that we have currently built (and then some), falling down. It makes more sense to me than talking of gigatonnes and what not.

          • Macro

            The mean annual air temperature of the Antarctic Peninsula has increased by nearly 3°C in the region in the last 50 years, (about 10 times faster than the average for the rest of the world) the only comparable regions are in the Arctic. The temperature of the rest of Antarctica shows indications of rising at a slower rate.
            The surface of the ice sheet at the South Pole is more than 9,000 feet in elevation–more than a mile and a half above sea level. The warmest temperature recorded at the South Pole (which is not the coldest place on Earth) was −12.3 °C on Christmas day 2011. The coldest temperature recorded on Earth was −89.2 °C at Vostok Station in July 1983.

            I think you mean “albedo” effect.

            I’m not sure about the sexual status of the polar regions.

            • Greg #56

              “the libido effect of the continent is intact.” Gives new meaning to the saying, hard as ice! And it appears that on this day, Friday the 13th April, we’ve just shattered the ‘coldest temperature recorded on Earth’ as Dome Fuji / Valkyrie sunk to -96˚C (just checked again now and it’s ‘warmed up’ to only -92C but hey, it’s still a record and it’s only autumn…).


              Australia’s BoM was recording -55˚C at B*mbala in NSW today too (so I don’t set-off trigger warnings, replace the *asterisk* with an ‘o’). Either automated weather stations have gone wonky en masse or it’s freakin’ cold out there! And don’t mention the hundreds of live volcanoes simmering and oozing and bubbling away under both the West Antarctic Ice Shelf (sea ice) and Sheet (land ice).

              Keep the home fires burnin’ – she be mighty chilly out thar tonight.

              • Macro

                With Global Warming (ie Increasing energy being trapped in the troposphere due to increasing GHG’s) we should expect widely varying changes in weather – such as we have just witnessed in NZ). As sea temperatures rise and fall, pressure zones and depressions increase in intensity, with higher winds, Higher air temperatures in warmer climates also means the air holds more water vapour to be transported to colder regions – such as Antarctica – to be dropped as snow. As you see – even though the Antarctic Peninsula has warmed by 3°C it is still below freezing. So the warm, moisture filled winds, blowing south from the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans will increase the snow burden on the Continent.

                Imagine a pot of cold water on a stove. As you turn on the element and add energy to the water, the water doesn’t heat up uniformly – convection currents swirl around, making some parts cooler, some parts warmer than others. Essentially our planet is going through the same process.

            • Bill

              I think you mean “albedo” effect.


    • cleangreen 5.2

      timeforacupoftea —Warning!!!!! another climate change denier and supporter of big oil????

  6. koreropono 6

    This is a great reminder that it is OUR responsibility to do what we can to minimise the catastrophe that’s coming, instead thinking it’s not our problem and leaving it to our offspring to deal with it, shame!

  7. pat 7

    I read an article some 3 or 4 years ago where a couple of scientists had evidence that led them to conclude the west antarctic ice sheet had collapsed in a matter of months last time…..despite extensive searching I have been unable to refind the article but clearly recall the impression it made.

  8. Viscount 8

    “So when I hear that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet is melting…”

    Source please.

    Personally I’m finding more and more scientific studies and accounts concluding the opposite, i.e. that they’re in fact finding MORE ice developing on existing shelves and that it’s been cooling over the last century.

    ““The annual mean temperature has decreased at a statistically significant rate, with the most rapid cooling during the Austral summer.”
    – Turner, et al. (2016)

    “(a) there has been no overall warming trend for large portions of the continent in the past few hundred years, (b) the Southern Ocean has been cooling since 1979, and that (c), because of the cooling ocean, sea ice extent has been advancing.”
    – Jones et al. (2016)

    “(1) Temperatures over the Antarctic continent show an overall cooling trend during the period from 0 to 1900 CE, which appears strongest in West Antarctica, and (2) no continent-scale warming of Antarctic temperature is evident in the last century.”
    – Stenni et al. (2017)

    “During 2003 to 2008, the mass gain of the Antarctic ice sheet from snow accumulation exceeded the mass loss from ice discharge by 49 Gtlyr (2.5% of input), as derived from ICESat laser measurements of elevation change. ”
    – Zwally, et al. (2012) +

    “The undersides of ice shelves are usually smooth due to gradual melting. But as the camera passed through the bottom of the hole, it showed the underside of the ice adorned with a glittering layer of flat ice crystals—like a jumble of snowflakes—evidence that in this particular place, sea water is actually freezing onto the base of the ice instead of melting it. ‘It blew our minds,’ says Christina Hulbe, a glaciologist from the University of Otago in New Zealand, who co-led the expedition.”

    • Bill 8.1

      You want a source? Seriously!?

      How’s about you simply read the linked paper from the post, or alternatively, look up any other damned peer reviewed scientific paper on the matter?

      And while you’re at it, educate yourself on the difference between an ice shelf and an ice sheet. (Hint: one sits on water, while the other is grounded)

  9. cleangreen 9

    Today this is our submission to the ‘Climate change panel’ chair after their release today of the ‘Climate Change Minister James Shaw’ says he’s been impressed by the enthusiasm and leadership shown by the financial and business sector at the launch of a new “Climate Finance Landscape Report” in Auckland.
    “The transition to a net zero emissions economy brings huge opportunities and the finance sector has a significant role to play making it happen.

    Protecting our environment & health.
    In association with other Community Groups, NHTCF and all Government Agencies since 2001.
    Public COMMUNITY submission to;

    Hon; James Shaw. – Climate Change Minister.

    13th April 2018.

    Dear James;


    • Our NGO has a long history of standing up for the Environment equal to anyone else and seen three Government changes since.

    • WE SENT OUR SUBMISSION IN 2001 TO THE ‘THEN MINISTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE’ AND IS NOW AGAIN OUR SUBMISSION TO THE NEW MINISTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE Hon’ James Shaw at his “launch of a newClimate Finance Landscape Report in Auckland. (See our submission below as then in 2001 was addressed to Martin Harvey, Deputy Director 7th November 2001 NZ Climate Change Program)

    • Please use Kiwirail in place of Tranzrail in our new submission please as the direction has been the same lack of quote; taking any action on “economic opportunities arising from taking action on climate change.”

    Thank you for your attention.
    We anticipate your response.


    Financing climate action
    Friday, 13 April 2018, 11:11 am
    Press Release: New Zealand Government
    Minister for Climate Change
    13 April 2018
    Key financial, business and environmental leaders meet to talk financing climate action
    Key leaders from the finance, business, environment, church, government and academic communities met today to discuss economic opportunities arising from taking action on climate change.
    Climate Change Minister James Shaw says he’s been impressed by the enthusiasm and leadership shown by the financial and business sector at the launch of a newClimate Finance Landscape Report in Auckland.
    “The transition to a net zero emissions economy brings huge opportunities and the finance sector has a significant role to play making it happen.
    “The Government is already working on several of the report’s recommendations, including establishing a Green Investment Fund, fixing the Emissions Trading Scheme to provide effective carbon pricing, and I have asked officials to look at options for disclosure and reporting of climate-related financial risks,” says James Shaw.
    “New Zealand has committed to making sure finance flows go towards low emissions and climate resilient development as part of the Paris Agreement,” says Mr Shaw.
    A report by economic research collective, Mōhio, commissioned by the Ministry for the Environment, confirms there are multiple opportunities for financial institutions and companies to take action to lower emissions – and many are already leading the way.
    “Many businesses and investors can see that climate action and green activities are not only good for business – but are a crucial part of New Zealand achieving a low emissions, climate resilient future, while also reducing risks to the financial sector.
    “Financing the clean economy is crucial to ensuring a just transition that creates jobs in new industries.
    “Roughly two thirds of all climate finance globally comes from the private sector, so there is heavy reliance on them to take action.
    “Climate finance activities are underway, progress is being made, but this is just the start of a long journey and we need to do more. We need to build on existing leadership and momentum.”
    © Scoop Media

    P.O. Box Napier

    Martin Harvey, Deputy Director 7th November 2001
    NZ Climate Change Program


    Local Councils face a major task of lowering the adverse effects of heavy truck noise and pollution all over Napier; trucks are now operating through Napier 24 hours a day, which is creating stress and adverse health effects to residents.

    The answer lies in rail. The re-establishment of rail freight through Napier to the port and other regions would heavily reduce this massive overuse of heavy trucks to move our region’s exports and imports. We obtained LTSA records which confirm our worst fears that during the 1990s there was a large increase of freight trucks on our roads while rail freight declined, as a result of road transport deregulation. It is well proven that when more roads are built, the traffic increases in proportion. We believe a new transport strategy needs to be developed, both by local and government authorities, that reflect a commitment to support more rail freight rather than road freight alone.

    We received the following attached information that Tranzrail is now beginning to dramatically reduce it’s freight wagon fleet that they perceive as no longer part of their core business, and that they are sending 100s of wagons to the scrap yard to be scrapped, including log hauling wagons, flat deck container wagons, fertilizer, fuel, tallow and resin tankers, and much more. We called Sims Pacific Metals at (09) 276 1809 and it was confirmed to us that they have already recently destroyed 100 of the first 300 wagons Tranzrail has sent them on contract to destroy. It seems that this present ‘get rid of’ mentality is more business ideology driven than based on sound engineering principles. Deliberate wrecking of rail infrastructure that is part of essential services could destabilize this country if another fuel crisis or economic recession occurs.

    According to UK reports, pollution from road transport networks is very damaging to the environment and to human health. Transporting one tonne a distance of one kilometre by road produces fumes totalling 72g of carbon dioxide as opposed to 7.5g for rail, and 0.1 particles as opposed to 0.01g for rail. In simple terms, trucks pollute 10 times more than trains. The report also confirms that a large truck causes 100,000 times more damage to roads than a car, and the cost of road maintenance is unfairly paid by car operators, not truck operators.

    Tranzrail’s ominous new direction is a matter of great concern, that valuable rolling stock is being destroyed when they should be retained by us for future freight handling by rail. Tranzrail is now the largest trucking company in New Zealand, and must be required to return its freight back to its rail system that it bought for that purpose in the first place, with some form of incentive from government for the benefit of the environment.

    Investment in the rail will pay in the long term, and if the economic reason to do so is not obvious to us now, we must do it for the environment, to help the planet, to reduce the carbon dioxide and the greenhouse gasses. Lateral thinking is what is needed now. Simply, if we are to seriously concern ourselves with the long term effects of climate change, we must start now reducing our dependency on heavy truck freight hauling and return to the more environmentally friendly rail freight system, as most of our trading partners are doing.

    CEAC Inc has researched the rail issue and has extensive information to share. We look forward to presenting our views in the future, when local and central government are working on transport strategies, to which we would like to be involved. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

    Yours truly,


    • mikes 9.1

      “According to UK reports, pollution from road transport networks is very damaging to the environment and to human health…”

      I remember an article or may have even been a video about the contents of wheel dust collected from the sides of main highways. From memory it has hundreds of different things in it ranging from dangerous and carcinogenic chemicals and substances, to precious metals like gold and platinum as well as very rare minerals and metals and other sciencey sounding things…hehe you know what I mean, stuff

      • cleangreen 9.1.1

        Yes Mikes,

        Several documents are out now about the dangers of tyre dust to humans.

        The Guardian article is vividly expressive for one;
        Or this ;

        Motoring Pollutionwatch
        “The polluting effect of wear and tear in brakes and tyres”

        Some wear-particles from brakes and tyres are small enough to be inhaled, and the increase in wear-particles can outweigh the benefits of improvements in exhaust emissions

        Gary Fuller @drgaryfuller
        Sun 11 Sep 2016 21.30 BST Last modified on Wed 14 Feb 2018 16.36 GMT

        The harder the braking, the more particles fly – a driver brakes during the Italian Formula One Grand Prix on 4 September, 2016.

        One in six MOT failures is due to brake or tyre problems. These wear as we drive, as does the surface of roads. Most of the wear material ends up as dust at the kerb or gets washed into drains but some wear-particles are small enough to be inhaled, and contribute to our air pollution. These particles are rich in transition metals which add to the toxicity of our urban air.

        Increasing amounts of wear-particles have been found in new research from King’s College London. Scientists tracked air pollution alongside 65 roads for ten years. The researchers found some roads where the air pollution benefits from improvements in diesel exhausts were outweighed by increases in particles that come from the wear of tyres, brakes and the road. This was mainly on outer London roads that had increasing numbers of heavy good vehicles.

        Calls for a new clean air act in the UK

        Accessories such as electric windows and air conditioning mean that new cars can be heavier than the ones that they replace . This means more brake and tyre wear. Brake systems on cars, vans and lorries have also changed. Since disc brakes have been gradually replacing drum systems, but open discs emit more inhalable air pollution than drum brakes, where the wear-particles are mostly sealed in.

        There are no policies to control these emissions. Stopping from 30mph emits around twice the amount of brake particles compared with stopping from 20mph, so lower urban speed limits could help, as could reducing traffic volumes – especially by better management of goods moved by road.

  10. mikes 10

    In reality Antarctica is about the size of Australia. Which is still fuckin big, but not massively amazingly enormous..

    It seems a Kiwi research team have recently discovered west Antarctica ice sheet is actually freezing underwater so no immediate worry about catastrophic sea level rise from melting ice?..

    Nasa says that areas of ice are melting at an accelerated rate due to underwater thermal volcanic activity. At least humankind’s CO2 emissions aren’t to blame this time round..?

    Is East Antarctica gaining in size?..

    • Bill 10.1

      1. What makes you think an ice shelf (growing or shrinking) makes any difference whatsoever to sea levels?

      2. What has that link got to do with retreating ground lines?

      3. Where in the post is there any mention of East Antarctica? And what possible effect could any “balance” of gain and loss in East Antarctica have on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet?

      And an additional – what makes you think that what can be observed on the surface gives any indication whatsoever of what is happening hundreds of metres beneath the ocean’s surface?

      • mikes 10.1.1

        Whoa… defensive much?

        1. I was just reading what the experts were saying in the articles. They were just the first few links that popped up in a search about antarctic ice melting.. I dunno as don’t take much interest in the subject, but would imagine that if massive ice shelves which are currently supported by rock (the ground) break off and / or melt into the ocean they would cause some sort of sea level rise?

        2. Fucked if I know, I was just posting some articles about Antarctica and it’s current state which I found interesting, especially with Kiwi scientists out in the wickedly hard core environment doing their science thing. Those guys are the real deal!

        3. See 2.

        The additional – Hey, I have an answer for that one! The Kiwi research team drilled through 1km of ice and were taking readings from under the ice sheet.. so there!

        Aww just figured it… you’re pissed coz it turns out Antarctica’s not that massive aye? All good, it’s still the highest, coldest, windiest and for many months the darkest place on the planet! See, I never would have learned this stuff If you hadn’t posted your article, now I might even endeavor to learn a bit more as it’s quite a freaky place really…

        • McFlock

          Read the natgeo article again. They were drilling under the Ross ice shelf.

          The ice shelf is important because:

          The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is up to 10,000 feet thick in some places. It sits in a broad, low bowl that dips thousands of feet below sea level—making it vulnerable to deep, warm ocean currents that are already nipping at its outer edges. It is stabilized, at least for the time being, by a phalanx of floating ice shelves, that hang off its outer edges—of which the Ross Ice Shelf is by far the largest. Those floating shelves provide a buttress; they “are holding back a very big amount of ice,” says Craig Stevens, an oceanographer from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in New Zealand, who participated in the expedition.

          Funny thing about those volcanos, too. One theory suggests that the weight of the ice sheet is suppressing some of the volcanic activity. If that weight lessens, the activity increases, and more of the ice sheet melts.

          So the worry is that the loss of buttressing ice shelves causes a feedback loop of increasing calving and melting causing more volcanism and therefore accelerated melting again.

        • Bill

          No Mike. Not “defensive”. It just pisses me when it seems people are grabbing at stuff without really reading anything and then using snippets, headlines or out of context stuff to suggest things are A-OK.

  11. gsays 11

    Sobering, thanks Bill.

    While the enormity what is in front of us is a little overwhelming, we can make changes.
    None of these will reverse the global trends but they are a start.
    Get involved with local community gardens, look up your local ‘transition towns’ initiative and lend your shoulder to the wheel.
    Have those brave, enquiring conversations, not with a view to win people over, more to plant seeds.

  12. David Mac 12

    “Would you like a 400km long ice cube in that Cosmopolitan Sir?”

  13. Whats so damn beautiful about that freezing hell hole?

    I suppose if your a penguin, whale or seal its great ! My sons got a mate who works on a fishing vessel near the Auckland Islands… 3 months aboard.. Brrrrr !

    No thanks.

    And besides – its full of Nazis and aliens ! Mwhahaha !

    Video for operation highjump ufo footage▶ 7:46

  14. Jenny 14

    Whereas it has been suggested that such a colossal amount of ice would take thousands of years to melt down (as though we were talking of some big ice cube just melting off into the ground), when researchers take processes like “ice cliff failure” (max possible height for an ice cliff being about 100m) and hydro-facturing – (think water and crevasses) – and factor them into modeling, then the collapse of the West Antarctica Ice Sheet occurs over decades, not centuries, and certainly not thousands of years.


    And yet we are still allowing oil and gas drilling up to 2050 and exploration for new reserves up to 2030.

    And New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions keep relentlessly going up, year after year, just as they have under the last two or three administrations. And that continuing increase does not look likely to change under this administration.

    And we keep opening up new coal mines.

    What the hell is that all about?

    Small potatoes you may say, as New Zealand’s greenhouse emissions, (from all sources), totals only 0.2% of the world total. And what we do hardly makes any difference at all.

    However, as Professor Gluckman has said, New Zealand’s biggest contribution to stopping climate change will be by doing something iconic, something that will make the world sit up and take notice.

    In my personal meetings with politicians, all of them agree (on both sides of the house, with varying levels of shock and awe), that canceling oil exploration licences would most certainly be that iconic event that would capture the world’s attention.

    Greenpeace Aotearoa latest petition calls for just that.

    Oh, and also, the repeal of the Andarko Amendment so that we can mobilise the sort of protests that will make oil exploration impossible and too expensive to continue with.

  15. cleangreen 15

    Hi Bill thanks for the article it is very timely.

    Also another stark reminder for us was the fact that successive studies have also found that black tyre dust was detected being swept up of the atlantic currents and was depositing on the ice shelves and attracting heat from the sun and increasing the melting of the ice caps.

    So increased car/truck tyre dust will increase ice shelf melting.

    Climate change: How do we know?

    Now the average heavy freight truck has 34 tyres and produces 100 times more tyre/brake dust and exhaust soot pollution than one car. (NIWA statistics)
    Latest scientific evidence shows these forms of black dust are accelerating the melting of arctic ice faster than previously thought.
    This is increasing sea level rise far more quickly than before.
    This is why we need rail freight transport.
    This is not time to plan more truck routes.
    The proof is here – Quote; “Global sea level rose about 17 centimeters (6.7 inches) in the last century.
    The rate in the last decade, however, is nearly double that of the last century.We don’t need more roads for trucks we need a return of rail services.

    We need to manage our transport to lower the air pollution that will increase Antarctic ice melt.

    Soot and Dirt Is Melting Snow and Ice Around the World

    The evidence for rapid climate change is compelling:

    Sea level rise

    Global sea level rose about 17 centimeters (6.7 inches) in the last century. The rate in the last decade, however, is nearly double that of the last century

    Climate change: How do we know?
    This graph, based on the comparison of atmospheric samples contained in ice cores and more recent direct measurements, provides evidence that atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution. (Source: [[LINK||||NOAA]])

    This graph, based on the comparison of atmospheric samples contained in ice cores and more recent direct measurements, provides evidence that atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution. (Credit: Vostok ice core data/J.R. Petit et al.; NOAA Mauna Loa CO2 record.

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    Kiwis are benefiting from higher wage growth and low inflation under the Coalition Government. Stats NZ data out today shows the rise in the cost of living remains low, as annual Consumers Price Index (CPI) inflation fell to 1.5% in September from 1.7% in June. “The low inflation comes as ...
    3 hours ago
  • NZ economy strong amid global headwinds
    New Zealand’s economic strength and resilience has been recognised in a major update on the state of the global economy. The IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook released overnight shows a reduced global growth forecast over the next two years as issues like the US-China trade war and Brexit take hold. ...
    3 hours ago
  • Keeping New Zealanders safer with better counter-terrorism laws
    Justice Minister Andrew Little has today introduced a new Bill to prevent terrorism and support the de-radicalisation of New Zealanders returning from overseas. The Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill gives the New Zealand Police the ability to apply to the High Court to impose control orders on New Zealanders who ...
    3 hours ago
  • Improved succession and dispute resolution core of Ture Whenua changes
    A Bill that proposes targeted changes to simplify the processes for Māori land owners when engaging with the Māori Land Court has had its First Reading today. “The approach taken by the Government is to ensure that the protection of Māori land remains a priority as we seek to improve ...
    5 hours ago
  • Speech to CTU Biennial Conference
    Let me first thank all the new unionists and members in the room. There is nothing more important to improving people’s working lives than people making the decision to care, to get on board and help, to take up the reins and get involved. Congratulations to you. You bring the ...
    5 hours ago
  • Minister ensures continued Whenuapai flight operations
    Minister of Defence Ron Mark has signed a certificate exempting the activity of engine testing at Whenuapai Airbase from the Resource Management Act 1991. The Act gives the Minister of Defence the power to exempt activities for the purposes of national security.  The certificate will mean the recent Environment Court ...
    5 hours ago
  • NZ joins Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action
    Finance Minister Grant Robertson has announced New Zealand will join the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action while attending APEC meetings in Chile. The objective of the 39 member Coalition is to share information and promote action to tackle climate change. It was formed in April this year, in ...
    8 hours ago
  • CTU speech – DPM
    Ladies and gentlemen, NZCTU President Richard Wagstaff, members of respective unions – thank you for the invitation to speak to you today. This might be preaching to the choir, but the importance of trade unions in New Zealand’s historical arch is difficult to understate. And it is my belief that ...
    1 day ago
  • Police Association Annual Conference
    "Let’s start by acknowledging that it has been a huge year. " Police Association Annual Conference James Cook Grand Chancellor Hotel Wellington Nau mai, haere mai. Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, ka nui te mihi, ki a koutou katoa. President of the Police Association, Chris Cahill; Members of the Association and ...
    1 day ago
  • New Zealand announces a further P-3 deployment in support of UN sanctions
    Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark have announced the New Zealand Government’s decision to again deploy a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea. New ...
    1 day ago
  • New Zealand deeply concerned at developments in north-east Syria
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says New Zealand continues to have serious concerns for peace and stability in north-east Syria. “Recent reports that hundreds of ISIS-affiliated families have fled from a camp are deeply concerning from a humanitarian and security perspective”, Mr Peters says. “While we acknowledge Turkey’s domestic security ...
    1 day ago
  • Government on high alert for stink bugs
    Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor is warning travelling Kiwis to be vigilant as the high-season for the crop-eating brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is under way. “We’re on high alert to stop BMSB arriving in NZ. The high season runs until April 30 and we’ve strengthened our measures to stop stink ...
    1 day ago
  • Better protections for students in halls of residence
    The Government is moving swiftly to change the law to improve the welfare and pastoral care of students living in university halls of residence and other tertiary hostels. Cabinet has agreed to several changes, including creating a new mandatory Code of Practice that sets out the duty of pastoral care ...
    2 days ago
  • New trapping guide for community and expert trappers alike
    The Minister for Conservation Eugenie Sage has launched a new comprehensive trapping guide for community trappers to help them protect our native birds, plants and other wildlife, at Zealandia in Wellington today. ‘A practical guide to trapping’, has been developed by the Department of Conservation (DOC), and was launched during ...
    2 days ago
  • Widening Access to Contraceptives Welcomed
    Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter welcomes PHARMAC’s move to improve access to long-acting reversible contraception (LARCs). PHARMAC has today announced it will fund the full cost of Mirena and Jaydess for anyone seeking long term contraception, lifting previous restrictions on access to Mirena. “I welcome women having greater choices ...
    2 days ago
  • Major upgrade for Taranaki Base Hospital
    The Government has approved the next stage of a major redevelopment of Taranaki Base Hospital, which will deliver new and improved facilities for patients. Health Minister Dr David Clark has announced details of a $300 million dollar project to build a new East Wing at the New Plymouth hospital. It ...
    3 days ago
  • Extra support for rural families
    Extra funding will allow Rural Support Trusts to help farming families, says Minister for Rural Communities and Agriculture Damien O’Connor. “I know that rural families are worried about some of the challenges facing them, including the ongoing uncertainty created by the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak. “Those concerns sit alongside ongoing worries ...
    4 days ago
  • Howard Leaque Beekeeper programme graduation
    Thank you for the opportunity to be here to present certificates to the 16 graduates who have completed a beekeeping course delivered by the Howard League.  Let us start by acknowledging Auckland Prison’s Deputy Prison Director Tom Sherlock, and Acting Assistant Regional Commissioner of Corrections Northern Region Scott Walker - ...
    5 days ago
  • Finance Minister to attend APEC meetings
    Finance Minister Grant Robertson leaves this weekend to attend the APEC Finance Ministers meeting in Santiago, Chile. Discussions between APEC Finance Ministers at the meeting will include the effects of the current global economic uncertainty, risks for APEC economies and sustainable development of the region. While at APEC Grant Robertson ...
    5 days ago
  • Pacific languages are a source of strength, they ground us and build confidence
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio says for Pacific people, language can be a source of strength. It can help ground us and give us confidence. When we speak them, our languages provide us with an immediate and intimate access to our identity and our story - and ...
    5 days ago
  • Major boost to support disabled people in sport and recreation
    The Coalition Government has announced an action plan to improve the wellbeing of disabled New Zealanders by addressing inequalities in play, active recreation and sport. The initiative includes training to develop a workforce that understands the needs of children and young people with a range of impairments, advocacy for fit ...
    5 days ago
  • More prefab homes to be built as red tape cut
    The construction sector is being freed up to allow more homes to be built more quickly as the Government cuts through some of the red tape of the Building Act.  “Every New Zealander deserves a warm, dry, safe home and old inefficiencies in the Building Act make building slow and ...
    5 days ago
  • Further details of Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall visit to New Zealand
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has welcomed further details on the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall’s visit to New Zealand next month. Their Royal Highnesses will visit New Zealand from 17-23 November – their third joint visit to New Zealand and first in four years. They arrive in Auckland ...
    5 days ago
  • O’Connor in Thailand to push for RCEP deal
    Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth and Minister of Agriculture, Damien O’Connor, heads to Thailand today to attend the final Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Ministerial meeting, as negotiations enter their final stages. “The RCEP Agreement would anchor New Zealand in a regional agreement that covers 16 countries, ...
    5 days ago
  • Young Pacific people can access earning and learning opportunities in Hawke’s Bay, Otago and South...
    Pacific young people living in the Hawke’s Bay, Southland and Otago regions will have access to support services that have proved successful in helping young people find new earning and learning opportunities. “Tupu Aotearoa is about changing Pacific young peoples’ lives. Our young people are talented, they are smart, they ...
    6 days ago
  • Protecting wellbeing – ACC HQSC Trauma Forum
    Introduction As the Minister for ACC I thank you all for the work that you do supporting New Zealanders in their literally most vulnerable moments. From those who hold people’s lives in their hands, to the people who research technique, technology and trends, your work is highly valued. A special ...
    6 days ago
  • NZ economy in good shape – notes prepared for speeches in Christchurch
    Notes prepared for speeches in Christchurch – Wednesday 9 October 2019 Today’s topic, “trends and opportunities for the New Zealand economy,” is certainly one getting a great deal of commentary at the moment. Looking across the media landscape lately you’ll notice we aren’t the only ones having this discussion. There ...
    6 days ago
  • World Mental Health Day a reminder of the importance of mental health work
    Minister of Health Dr David Clark and Associate Minister of Health Peeni Henare say this year’s World Mental Health Day theme is a reminder of why the Government’s work on mental health is so important. “This year the World Federation for Mental Health has made suicide prevention the main theme ...
    6 days ago
  • Cultural Ministers Meeting
    Associate Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Carmel Sepuloni will represent the government at Australia’s Meeting of Cultural Ministers in Adelaide this week. “This year’s meeting is special because New Zealand is expected to become an International Member of the Meeting of Cultural Ministers at this Australian forum,” Carmel Sepuloni said. “The meeting is an opportunity to ...
    7 days ago
  • 608 claims resolved by GCCRS in first year
    The Greater Christchurch Claims Resolution Service has resolved 608 insurance and EQC claims in its first year in operation, Minister Megan Woods has announced. The government service, which celebrates its first birthday today, provides a one stop shop to help Cantabrians still battling to get their homes repaired or rebuilt ...
    1 week ago
  • NZ economy in good shape
    Today’s topic, “trends and opportunities for the New Zealand economy,” is certainly one getting a great deal of commentary at the moment. Looking across the media landscape lately you’ll notice we aren’t the only ones having this discussion. There has been an increasing amount of attention paid to the outlook ...
    1 week ago
  • NZTA to refocus on safety following review
    The Government is acting swiftly to strengthen NZTA’s regulatory role following a review into the Transport Agency, and Ministry of Transport’s performance as its monitor, Transport Minister Phil Twyford said today. An independent review by Martin Jenkins has found NZTA failed to properly regulate the transport sector under the previous ...
    1 week ago
  • Joint Cooperation Statement on Climate Change between the Netherlands and New Zealand
    The Netherlands and New Zealand have a long-standing and close relationship based on many shared interests and values. We value the rule of law, our democracies, and multilateralism.  And we value our environment – at home and globally. Right now there are major global challenges in all of these areas – ...
    1 week ago
  • Government putting right Holidays Act underpayment in Health
    The Government is putting right a decade’s worth of underpayment to nurses, doctors and other health workers, says Health Minister Dr David Clark.  Initial sampling of District Health Boards payroll records has found that around $550-$650 million is owed to DHB staff to comply with the Holidays Act. It’s expected ...
    1 week ago
  • Government accounts show strong economy
    A strong surplus and low debt show the economy is performing well, and means the Government is in a good position to meet the challenges of global economic uncertainty. “The surplus and low levels of debt show the economy is in good shape. This allows the Government to spend more ...
    1 week ago
  • Ministers approve application to expand Waihi mine
    New applications from mining company OceanaGold to purchase land in Waihi for new tailings ponds associated with its gold mines have been approved. Minister of Finance Grant Robertson and Associate Minister of Finance David Parker considered the applications under the Overseas Investment Act. Earlier this year, applications from OceanaGold to ...
    1 week ago
  • Tuia 250 Voyage flotilla launches with tribute to tangata whenua
    New Zealanders in Tūranganui-a-Kiwa / Poverty Bay will witness Māori, Pākehā and Pacific voyaging traditions come together today as the Tuia 250 Voyage flotilla assembles for the first time, Māori Crown Relations: Te Arawhiti Minister Kelvin Davis says. “Tuia 250 is a national commemoration and an opportunity for honest conversations ...
    1 week ago
  • Visit to advance trade agenda with Europe and the Commonwealth
    Minister for Trade and Export Growth David Parker leaves tomorrow for Dubai, London and Berlin for a series of meetings to advance New Zealand’s trade interests.  In Dubai he will visit New Zealand’s Pavilion at Expo 2020 where construction is underway.  There he will meet Minister of State for International Cooperation, Her ...
    1 week ago
  • More cancer drugs confirmed – even more on horizon
    Confirmation that PHARMAC will fund two new cancer drugs is further evidence of the good progress the Government is making to improve the treatment of New Zealand’s leading cause of death, Health Minister David Clark says. From 1 December PHARMAC will fund alectinib (Alecensa) for ALK positive advanced non-small cell ...
    1 week ago