Sunday, August 18, 2019

Evangelicals forgive Donald Trump for 12,000 lies but not for saying 'goddamn'.

Actually they forgive him for a lot more. (Remember the Hollywood Access video?) Every day, in every way, there is another transgression, another violation of Christian mores, if not against the poor or infirm or infants, then it is is against all that in creation for which we are endowed with stewardship. Relative to all that, what’s a little cussin’ now and then?

In this Sunday’s Daily Star Michael Gerson exposes the disordered priorities of evangelicals: By siding with bigots, white evangelicals risk the reputation of the gospel. Here is some of it.

… After a recent speech by Donald Trump, [West Virginia state Senator Paul] Hardesty — who is a conservative, pro-Trump Democrat — received phone calls from Christians complaining of the president’s use of the term “goddamn.” In a letter to Trump, Hardesty pronounced himself “appalled by the fact that you chose to use the Lord’s name in vain on two separate occasions.” This is hardly a national groundswell for decorum. But I don’t want to be dismissive of people revolted by the steaming, stinking cesspool of Trump’s public rhetoric. The problem is one of proportion. Interviewed by Politico, Hardesty admitted that evangelicals had been willing to overlook many of the president’s character flaws, but he ventured that on the matter of blasphemy, Trump’s “evangelical base might be far less forgiving.”

Consider this statement in the light of some recent developments:

  • The Trump administration seems intent on sending to Congress a more than $4 billion package of budget cuts focused on diplomacy and foreign assistance spending. These proposed reductions would likely include efforts to fight the spread of Ebola, programs to encourage food security and nutrition across Africa, aid to countries taking the brunt of the refugee crisis, and democracy support in Venezuela, Ukraine and Tibet.

  • The president continues to vilify refugees as national security threats without the slightest bit of evidence. This year, the Trump administration capped the number of refugees that can resettle in the U.S. at 30,000 — the lowest ceiling since the refugee program was created in 1980. And now the administration is considering cutting that number to nearly zero next year.

  • At the southern border, the Trump administration has tightened the rules on asylum, making it harder for applicants to seek protection when family members face threats and barring migrants seeking asylum if they have passed through a third country on their trek. The administration’s policy of family separation, its abusive treatment of migrants, its policy confusion, and its general incompetence have contributed to a humanitarian crisis on both sides of the border.

Massive budget cuts to hunger-relief programs in Africa, refusing to take in desperate Syrian refugees and separating crying children from their parents at the border are tolerable, but using the Lord’s name in vain is a bridge too far? Pathological lying, spreading conspiracy theories, misogyny, making racist comments and dehumanizing others are permissible, but swearing somehow crosses the line?

How we order our outrage says much about us. Do we feel the violation of a religious rule more intensely than the violation of human dignity? Do we prioritize our religiosity above our anthropology — above our theory of human beings and their rights?

In a poll last year by the Pew Research Center, only 25% of white evangelicals said the United States has a responsibility to accept refugees, while 65% of the religious unaffiliated affirmed that duty. What could possibility explain this 40% gap in inclusion and compassion? For a certain kind of secularist, this reveals cruelty, corruption and hypocrisy at the heart of the Christian faith. But traditionally, many of the institutions that do refugee resettlement have been Christian.

The problem does not lie in Christianity but in the moral formation of Christians. Are they getting their view of refugees from Christian sources? Or are they taking their view from Fox News, talk radio and Donald Trump? I suspect the latter. And the worship of political idols is ultimately a spiritual problem — a different kind of blasphemy.

Many white evangelicals hold a faith that appeals to the comfortable rather than siding with the afflicted. They have allied themselves with bigots and nativists, risking the reputation of the gospel itself. And, in some very public ways, they are difficult to recognize as Christians at all.

(Thanks to our Roving Reporter Sherry for the tip.)

International Trophy Hunting, Part 1 - Killing a Leopard is a case study

Back in 2015 there was an international uproar over the trophy killing of Cecil, the Zimbabwean lion. Two years later the uproar renewed over the similar killing of his son, Xanda. You can find several posts at Scriber’s web site by a search for Cecil lion. I resume the story now with the late 2018 trophy killing of an African leopard and the 2019 report on trophy killings by the Congressional Research Service. The market for such trophies is, of course, whetted by the United States’ appetite for such gruesome art. We are by far the biggest importer of trophies.

Killing a leopard

snopes.com asks: Does This Photograph Show ‘Brittany L’ After Killing a Leopard? A photograph posted by Safari Club International went viral after being shared by outraged animal-lovers. (Published 17 September 2018)

The Claim: A photograph shows a woman named “Brittany L” on a hunting expedition, holding a recently-killed leopard.

Snopes’ Rating: True

In September 2018, a photograph went viral on social media along with a caption which claimed it showed a woman named “Brittany L.” holding a leopard she had just killed during a hunting expedition.

On 10 September, the wildlife artist Sue Dickinson posted the photograph to her Facebook page along with a message which read as follows:

This is Brittany L. She just killed this male leopard in his prime. According to SCI (Safari Club International) this leopard ranks as potentially the 9th largest leopard ever hunted. She’s a cretin. Please share if you agree. Let’s name and shame her.

Dickinson’s post was shared hundreds of thousands of times within a week and was re-published through multiple accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, including the supermodel Naomi Campbell.

The image is authentic and captures a woman posing with a real leopard that she herself killed.

The photograph was first posted on 7 September 2018 to the web site of Safari Club International, a hunting organization based in Tucson, Arizona, as part of a group of new entries into the organization’s online record book:

SCI members share their hunter pride

SCI Members hunt all over the globe, and are proud to share their successes. By entering their successful hunts in the SCI Record Book, they are not only documenting their hunting legacy for future generations, they are also adding to one of the largest and most comprehensive wildlife databases in the world.

The URL of the controversial photograph contains the words “Brittany L” and “leopard,” so it was reasonable for internet users to deduce that the woman shown with the leopard had the first name Brittany and a surname beginning with the letter “L.” Indeed, we can confirm that Brittany L. is the woman shown in the photograph (rather than the name of the person who submitted it to SCI’s record book).

On 7 September, SCI posted more details about “Brittany L.’s” leopard photograph on HuntForever.org, a website affiliated with the organization. That blog post has since been removed, but we obtained an SCI newsletter email dated 7 September with content identical to the blog post’s embedded in it (despite the post’s having been removed from HuntForever.org itself).

That blog post described the contentious photograph as follows: “Brittany L. is featured here with her African leopard that potentially ranks number 9 overall and scores 18 4/16.”

According to SCI, in defense of “Brittany L.” and the practice of hunting leopards: “Brittany Longoria is a philanthropist and develops ecotourism strategies for village communities in South and East Africa. Working in Africa since 2000, she unites governments, indigenous peoples and investors through local conservation projects. Sustainable hunting is part of their strategy. The goal: secure income for the local population and protection of native wildlife through their sustainable use. The best protection for the big cat and its prey: sustainable use.”

The bigger picture

This Photo Of A Woman Posing With A Leopard She Killed Sparks Mass Outrage. Big-game hunting enthusiasts say that their activities actually benefit wildlife conservation, and animal rights groups couldn’t disagree more.

A picture of a woman posing with a leopard that she apparently killed has made the rounds on the internet and ignited mass outrage from animal lovers and wildlife conservationists alike.

The image was originally posted by the hunter’s enthusiast group known as Safari Club International (SCI). The photo was posted on Sept. 7 to the site’s blog as a part of a collection titled, “SCI Members Share Their Hunter Pride.” The images are a part of the “SCI Record Book” — an international hunting record-keeping database for members of the group.

[Super model Doutzen] Kroes added her own caption to the image, in which she writes:

“How can you find pride and pleasure in killing a beautiful animal like this large male Leopard. The woman in the picture should be ashamed of herself! I find this disgusting and I’m so upset, sad and angry that this still happens!!”

Big-game hunting is a widely-debated topic among wildlife enthusiasts and big-game hunters. Hunters argue that their activities actually promote conservation. For example, after Corey Knowlton bid $350,000 to hunt and kill an endangered black rhino in Namibia in 2014, the money he paid went directly to government wildlife conservation anti-poaching efforts.

Indeed, SCI also states on their website that the organization “funds and directs worldwide programs dedicated to wildlife conservation and outdoor education.”

But animal rights groups argue otherwise and assert that governments which argue big-game hunting is a viable conservation strategy are completely outlandish.

According to The Humane Society, African leopards have suffered a population decline in sub-Saharan Africa of more than 30 percent in the past 25 years.

The even bigger picture

Here s the Humane Society’s 2016 report, African leopards a step closer to endangered species list, protection from trophy hunters.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that all leopards may qualify for “endangered” status under the Endangered Species Act. The decision comes in response to a legal petition submitted in July 2016 by the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Center for Biological Diversity and The Fund for Animals.

Leopards are at risk of extinction across their African and Asian range, having suffered a population decline in sub-Saharan Africa of more than 30 percent in the past 25 years, in part due to unsustainable trophy hunting by Americans. Yet due to a loophole in place since 1982, hundreds of leopard trophies per year have been imported into the United States without proper scrutiny by the federal government or scientific experts. In 2014, hunters imported 311 leopard trophies into the U.S.

In making its decision, the agency found that the group’s petition presented substantial scientific evidence that endangered protections may be warranted. The decision kicks off a comprehensive review of the status of the species.

Teresa M. Telecky, Ph.D, director of the wildlife department at HSI, said: “African leopard numbers are plummeting and as the largest leopard trophy importer in the world, the United States has taken a critical step toward ensuring that our consumption does not threaten the survival of this species.”

Jeff Flocken, IFAW’s North America regional director, said: “This is a crucial step forward in saving these imperiled animals. We thank the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for recognizing that enhanced protections under U.S. law may be warranted.”

Anna Frostic, senior wildlife attorney for the HSUS, said: “Initiating a status review of the species is long overdue and it is imperative that FWS expeditiously conclude this process and take action to increase oversight of African leopard trophy imports, as required by law.”

Sarah Uhlemann, international program director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said: “Leopards in Asia and northern Africa have long been recognized as endangered, and the United States must extend this same level of protection to all leopards to reverse their disturbing decline.”

Background

  • In sub-Saharan Africa, the leopard population has declined by more than 30 percent in the past 25 years, and the species has lost 48–67 percent of its historic range in Africa.
  • Between 2005–2014, at least 10,191 individual leopards were traded internationally as hunting trophies, with the U.S. as the top importer (accounting for 45 percent of this trade).
  • The number of leopard trophy imports has remained over 300 per year since 1999, despite commitments from FWS in 1982 to only allow “very few” leopard trophies into the country.
  • Panthera pardus is listed on CITES Appendix I, which prohibits international trade for commercial purposes, but this international agreement does not prohibit trade in hunting trophies.
  • Competition for records and prizes, such as Safari Club International’s “Grand Slam Cats of the World” and others, drive wealthy trophy hunters to seek out the world’s rarest animals and encourage trophy hunting at a time when the long-held belief that such killing aided conservation efforts is crumbling under increasing evidence that ecotourism boosts economies more than hunting expeditions (PDF).
  • Trophy hunting is under increased scrutiny following the 2015 killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe.

For the biggest picture, see the accompanying post, “International Trophy Hunting, part 2 - Congressional Research Service reports”

International Trophy Hunting, part 2 - Congressional Research Service reports

Scriber’s note: This is an executive summary; a link to the full document is provided below. Block quotes (indents) are suppressed to save screen space. Otherwise the text is a verbatim copy with emphases added.

International Trophy Hunting

March 20, 2019 R45615

International trophy hunting is a multinational, multimillion-dollar industry practiced throughout the world. Trophy hunting is broadly defined as the killing of animals for recreation with the purpose of collecting trophies such as horns, antlers, skulls, skins, tusks, or teeth for display. The United States imports the most trophies of any country in the world. Congressional interest in trophy hunting is related to the recreational and ethical considerations of hunting and the potential consequences of hunting for conservation. For some, interest in trophy hunting centers on particular charismatic species, such as African lions, elephants, and rhinoceroses. Congress’s role in addressing international trophy hunting is limited, because hunting is regulated by laws of the range country (i.e., the country where the hunted species resides). However, Congress could address trophy hunting through actions such as regulating trophy imports into the United States or providing funding and technical expertise to conserve hunted species in range countries.

International trophy hunting generates controversy because of its potential costs and benefits to conservation, ethical considerations, and its contribution to local economies in range states. Proponents of trophy hunting contend that the practice provides an estimated millions of dollars for the conservation of species in exchange for the hunting of a proportionally small number of individuals. Further, they argue that trophy hunting can create incentives for conserving habitat and ecosystems where hunted animals roam and, in some impoverished areas in range countries, can provide a means of income, employment, and community development. Critics of trophy hunting contend that the practice can lead to the decline of rare and endangered species and that the pathway of moving funds from hunting to conservation can be fraught with corruption and mismanagement. Further, some contend it is unethical to kill animals for sport, or at all, and that animals should not be valued according to how much a hunter would pay to hunt them.

The international community, including the United States, has laws and regulations related to international trophy hunting. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is an international agreement that creates a series of incrementally more stringent restrictions on imports and exports of wildlife, depending on the sustainability of such trade. The European Union (EU) also addresses trophy hunting through regulating trade of trophies, issuing permits for trade of trophies, and suspending certain species from trade with the EU if the species is in peril. In the United States, international trophy hunting is addressed by several laws, including the Endangered Species Act (ESA; 16 U.S.C. §§1531–1543), which implements CITES. ESA does not regulate trophy-hunting activities within range countries directly; rather, the law governs what can be imported into the United States. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) regulates trophy hunting, in part, by issuing permits to import trophies of species that are listed as threatened or endangered under ESA.

Congress could address international sport hunting by regulating trophy imports and funding conservation and research activities overseas, among other options. Some activities that Congress could consider, according to observers, include

  • directing the U.S. government to work with foreign governments and partners to monitor hunting practices and game species to help ensure a positive impact from trophy hunting in range states;
  • creating uniform standards for evaluating trophy import permits, specifically whether trophy hunting could enhance the survival of a population as addressed under ESA or be nondetrimental to a population as defined by CITES;
  • mandating that permit applications and decisions be made publicly available; and
  • creating an independent third-party certification system to evaluate trophy hunting operations.

Congress also might evaluate alternatives to trophy hunting in the wild. In Africa, for example, some countries have banned trophy hunting altogether and support wildlife viewing and tourism in its place. Some countries, such as South Africa, have large, fenced game ranches where animals can be hunted in a practice called captive hunting. Some contend these operations do not allow for fair chase hunting (i.e., hunting wild animals without boundaries) or contribute to conservation, whereas others argue that they facilitate wildlife management and reduce poaching.

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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Donald Trump is not pro-Israel. He's just pro-Trump.

The bottom line is you got two politicians seeking re-election. In Israel you got Bibi. In the U. S., you got Mimi.

Scriber’s Usually Unreliable Sources report on intercepts of phone conversations.

Mimi: Hey, Bibi. You gotta keep those Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib out of Israel. They’ll talk to Palestinians and burn your country down.

Bibi: [Gasp!] We’ll keep them out.

[After negative press and lots of it …]

Bibi: Oh, well. Tlaib can visit her 90-year old grandmother but she has to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement.

Mimi: That will work. I know all about NDAs.

In refusing to visit Israel under these conditions, Tlaib basically gave a single finger salute to both these dudes.

Quote of the [Yester]day: “… Trump — with the knowing help of Israel’s current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu — is doing something no American president and Israeli prime minister have done before: They’re making support for Israel a wedge issue in American politics.” -Thomas L. Friedman.

If You Think Trump Is Helping Israel, You’re a Fool charges Thomas L. Friedman in the NY Times. By barring Representatives Omar and Tlaib, Netanyahu made the president happy. But he has poisoned relations with America.

Here is some of Friedman’s column (with thanks to Roving Reporter Sherry).

I am going to say this as simply and clearly as I can: If you’re an American Jew and you’re planning on voting for Donald Trump because you think he is pro-Israel, you’re a damn fool.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. Trump has said and done many things that are in the interests of the current Israeli government — and have been widely appreciated by the Israeli public. To deny that would be to deny the obvious. But here’s what’s also obvious. Trump’s way of — and motivation for — expressing his affection for Israel is guided by his political desire to improve his re-election chances by depicting the entire Republican Party as pro-Israel and the entire Democratic Party as anti-Israel.

As a result, Trump — with the knowing help of Israel’s current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu — is doing something no American president and Israeli prime minister have done before: They’re making support for Israel a wedge issue in American politics.

Few things are more dangerous to Israel’s long-term interests than its becoming a partisan matter in America, which is Israel’s vital political, military and economic backer in the world.

As Dore Gold, the right-wing former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations and once a very close adviser to Netanyahu, warned in a dialogue at the Hudson Institute on Nov. 27, 2018: “You reach out to Democrats, and you reach out to Republicans. And you don’t get caught playing partisan politics in the United States.’’

Trump’s campaign to tar the entire Democratic Party with some of the hostile views toward Israel of a few of its newly elected congresswomen — and Netanyahu’s careless willingness to concede to Trump’s demand and bar two of them, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, from visiting Israel and the West Bank — is part of a process that will do huge, long-term damage to Israel’s interests and support in America.

Excuse me, but when did powerful Israel — a noisy, boisterous democracy where Israeli Arabs in its parliament say all kinds of wild and crazy things — get so frightened by what a couple of visiting freshman American congresswomen might see or say? When did Israel get so afraid of saying to them: “Come, visit, go anywhere you want! We’ve got our warts and we’ve got our good stuff. We’d just like you to visit both. But if you don’t, we’ll live with that too. We’re pretty tough.’’

It’s too late for that now. The damage of what Trump and Bibi have been up to — formally making Israel a wedge issue in American politics — is already done. …

Friday, August 16, 2019

Denmark's counter offer on Greenland

New Yorker satirist Andy Borowitz reports thatDenmark Offers to Buy U.S.

COPENHAGEN (The Borowitz Report)—After rebuffing Donald J. Trump’s hypothetical proposal to purchase Greenland, the government of Denmark has announced that it would be interested in buying the United States instead.

“As we have stated, Greenland is not for sale,” a spokesperson for the Danish government said on Friday. “We have noted, however, that during the Trump regime, pretty much everything in the United States, including its government, has most definitely been for sale.”

“Denmark would be interested in purchasing the United States in its entirety, with the exception of its government,” the spokesperson added.

A key provision of the purchase offer, the spokesperson said, would be the relocation of Donald Trump to another country “to be determined,” with Russia and North Korea cited as possible destinations.

If Denmark’s bid for the United States is accepted, the Scandinavian nation has ambitious plans for its new acquisition. “We believe that by giving the U.S. an educational system and national health care, it could be transformed from a vast land mass into a great nation,” the spokesperson said.

OMG#1 - Trump wants to buy Greenland. OMG#2 - Greenland is melting.

Greenland melting

Greenland is in the news for a couple of reasons.

The first is that Trump is threatening to buy it. Trump Is Said to Ask: Can We Buy Greenland? President Trump has repeatedly asked aides if they can pursue a purchase of Greenland. (h/t Roving Reporter Sherry_)

Maggie Haberman and Michael D. Shear of the NY Times report.

President Trump has been urging aides to explore a way to buy Greenland from Denmark, according to three people familiar with the discussions.

His interest in Greenland began last year. At a meeting that spring in the Oval Office, he joked about buying Greenland for its resources, according to a person who was in attendance.

In the year since, the president has repeatedly returned to the topic, asking aides if they can pursue a purchase of Greenland, a semiautonomous territory that Mr. Trump has been taken with in part because of its natural resources, like coal and uranium.

Privately, Mr. Trump’s advisers are highly skeptical that such a move could ever happen. But instead of telling him they do not think it is possible, the advisers have agreed to investigate the matter, according to the people briefed on the discussions.

OK. You can stop laughing. This could be serious sh!t. Trump does not want, and does not get, expert advice on such matters. So he goes off half-cocked triggered by a momentary, fleeting thought that morphs into a full blown obsession. Think about what he has done to our foreign affairs.

Another reason to take it seriously is that we’ve tried to buy Greenland before. The [Wall Street Journal reports:][wsj

Though Greenland is technically part of North America, it is culturally and politically linked to Europe. Following World War II, the U.S. under President Harry Truman developed a geopolitical interest in Greenland and in 1946 offered to buy it from Denmark for $100 million. Denmark refused to sell. And that was the second failed attempt—the State Department had also launched an inquiry into buying Greenland and Iceland in 1867.

I can appreciate wanting Greenland for its natural resources and strategic location. But here is the clinker.

Greenland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Friday morning that the island wasn’t on the market.

We’re open for business, not for sale,” the ministry said on Twitter while emphasizing Greenland’s natural resources and tourism potential.

Moreover, putting a golf course on Greenland is sort of like putting a golf course on an active volcano. Sooner or later you will lose your investment.

Climate change, you see, is another reason to be wary of buying Greenland. Several sources report this one - my arbitrary pick was the report at marketwatch.com, NASA scientists track Greenland’s melting ice, and the findings are not good ’It’s a little scary’ as climate change eats away at massive glaciers.

Look back at the photo at the start of this post. There are BIG chunks of ice floating away.

ABOARD A NASA RESEARCH PLANE OVER GREENLAND — The fields of rippling ice 500 feet below the NASA plane give way to the blue-green of water dotted with irregular chunks of bleached-white ice, some the size of battleships, some as tall as 15-story buildings.

Like nearly every other glacier on Greenland, the massive Kangerlussuaq is melting. In fact, the giant frozen island has seen one of its biggest melts on record this year. NASA scientist Josh Willis is now closely studying the phenomenon in hopes of figuring out precisely how global warming is eating away at Greenland’s ice.

Specifically, he wants to know whether the melting is being caused more by warm air or warm seawater. The answer could be crucial to Earth’s future.

Water brings more heat to something frozen faster than air does, as anyone who has ever defrosted a steak under the faucet knows.

If Willis’ theory that much of the damage is from the water turns out to be correct, he said, “there’s a lot higher potential for Greenland to melt more quickly than we thought.” And that means seas rising faster and coastal communities being inundated more.

Greenland contains enough ice to make world sea levels rise by 20 feet if it were all to melt. In a single day this month, it lost a record 13.7 billion tons by one estimate.

“It’s a little scary,” Willis said as looked down on an area filled with more water than ice. “We’re definitely watching the ice sheet disappear in front of us.”

Climate change is eating away at Greenland’s glaciers in two ways. The most obvious way is from the warm air above, which has been brutal this summer, with a European heat wave in July working like a hair dryer on the ice. The other way is from warm, salty water, some of it from North America’s Gulf Stream, nibbling at coastal glaciers from below.

When University of Georgia ice scientist Tom Mote, who isn’t part of this project, started studying Greenland’s glaciers in the early 1990s, researchers really didn’t think the water was a big factor.

Willis’ project — called Oceans Melting Greenland, or OMG — is showing that it is. Now the question is how much and how fast.

What Willis is measuring is the water 660 feet or more below the surface, which is warmer and saltier than the stuff that touches the air. It’s this deep water that does the major damage.

To measure this, NASA is spending five years crisscrossing the island in a tricked-out 77-year-old DC–3 built for World War II. Willis, project manager Ian McCubbin and mechanic Rich Gill drop long, cylindrical probes through a special tube in the floor of the plane, watching as the sensors parachute down and then dive into the chilly water.

McCubbin then waits for a tone on his computer that tells him the probe is underwater and measuring temperature and salinity. When all of the flight’s five probes start signaling — with a sound McCubbin likens to “a fax machine or an AOL modem” — he and Willis high-five.

Meanwhile, pilots Andy Ferguson and Don Watrous bank the plane toward the blue-green spots, looking for the next target and pointing out stunning giant icebergs and signs of glacial retreat over the radio.

As the data is radioed back from one $2,000 probe now deep in the water near Kangerlussuaq in eastern Greenland, it initially looks like the temperature hasn’t changed much over the last year or two, which could be good news. But that’s just one data point. Each year for the past four years, NASA has been looking at all of Greenland, and the numbers overall haven’t been quite as comforting.

If the water is playing a much bigger role than scientists thought, it could mean seas will be rising faster and higher than expected. That’s because 90% of the heat energy from climate change goes into the oceans, Willis said. Warm water provides “a bigger bang for the buck” than air when it comes to melting ice, Willis said.

In general, oceans warm up much more slowly than the air, yet they stay warmer longer. The water weakens glaciers and causes icebergs to break loose. Those icebergs eventually melt, adding to the seas.

“Some of them are as big as a city,” Willis said.

A 2017 study concluded that coastal glaciers and icecaps — what Willis is studying — reached a “tipping point” for ice loss in 1997 and since then have been rapidly deteriorating. A NASA satellite found that Greenland’s ice sheet lost about 255 billion metric tons a year between 2003 and 2016, with the loss rate generally getting worse.

It will take centuries for all of Greenland’s massive ice sheet to melt, but how fast is the key question. If warm water plays a bigger role than scientists suspect, by the year 2100, Greenland alone could cause 3 or 4 feet (more than 1 meter) of sea level rise, Willis said.

Other scientists, such as the University of Colorado’s Ted Scambos, say Greenland’s contribution to sea level rise by 2100 would probably be closer to 1 foot (30 centimeters).

"I tend toward the higher number, but I’m hoping for a lower number,” said University of Maryland Baltimore County glaciologist Christopher Shuman, whose family owns property along the coast.

Either way, that is, as a former VP put it in another context, a BFD.

(h/t to the Daily Star which ran another version of this report by the AP.)

A world edging toward the brink

Yes, it appears so. But ya gotta wonder: which brink?

With Trump as President, the World Is Spiraling Into Chaos writes Michelle Goldberg in the NY Times. Trump torched America’s foreign policy infrastructure. The results are becoming clear.

Here are her conclusions.

… India and Pakistan still have every interest in avoiding a nuclear holocaust. China may show restraint on Hong Kong. Wary of starting a war before the 2020 election, Trump might make a deal with Iran, though probably a worse one than the Obama agreement that he jettisoned. The global economy could slow down but not seize up. We could get through the next 17 months with a world that still looks basically recognizable.

Even then, America will emerge with a desiccated diplomatic corps, strained alliances, and a tattered reputation. It will never again play the same leadership role internationally that it did before Trump.

And that’s the best-case scenario. The most powerful country in the world is being run by a sundowning demagogue whose oceanic ignorance is matched only by his gargantuan ego. The United States has been lucky that things have hung together as much as they have, save the odd government shutdown or white nationalist terrorist attack. But now, in foreign affairs as in the economy, the consequences of not having a functioning American administration are coming into focus. “No U.S. leadership is leaving a vacuum,” said Susan Thornton [(who until last year was the acting assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, America’s top diplomat for Asia)].

We’ll see what gets sucked into it.

(With thanks to Roving Reporter Sherry)