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  • Aaron Wolf Baum

The Second-Most Abused Word in English, also the Coming Collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet



Inhabitants of this planet ought to care about its polar regions — unless you and Elon Musk have elected to trade such concerns for minute-to-minute oxygen concerns —and be able to talk about them without sounding possibly like idiots.


There are two C’s in the word “arctic”, crackling like ice underfoot. So the usual “Are-tick”, and, Elon help us, “An-are-tick” really grate. Or maybe should.


Anyway, other than the Greenland Ice Sheet, which just might be fracturing and sliding into the ocean en masse, concerns abound about the great West Antarctic Ice Sheet.


It is a beast: 530,000 cubic miles, enough frozen water to cover the continental USA to a depth of 897 feet (maybe not a terrible idea?). Its weight has pushed the underlying rock down by about a half mile. Could a big chunk of it fall into the ocean all at once? It’s not impossible, especially with a little help. What would happen then?


Find out.


(((((~)))))


(...for those who still remember the headline, the most-abused word is, I believe, “nuclear.” As a word near and dear to the hearts of physicists like me, “nuke-you-lar” (rather than “new-clear”) is like a stab right there...)

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