On Feb. 7, the New York Times reported that a crack in Antarctica’s fourth-largest ice shelf grew 17 miles in the last two months.
Seventeen miles is 29,920 yards. Since two months measures no more than 62 days, that’s approximately 483 yards a day and more than 20 yards an hour. In a single day, the crack averaged more first downs than the Patriots or Falcons gained in this year’s Super Bowl.
About 20 miles separate one end of the crack in the Larsen C ice shelf — a rift now over 100 miles long — from where the shelf front meets the South Atlantic Ocean. Due to the stress the crack puts on the remaining miles, scientists expect a break to happen soon, establishing one of the largest icebergs ever.
The collapse of an ice shelf frees up the glacier behind it, allowing it to melt and expedite global sea-level rise.
The entire Antarctic ice sheet holds well over half of Earth’s fresh water. With nearly a billion people worldwide lacking access to clean water, the break in Larsen C couldn’t be happening at a more opportune time.
Apparently there’s a lack of international political willto redistribute funds to provide clean water for all of humanity, even though the cost to do so would amount to a fraction of the annual sales of bottled water.
Reports show that people in the US use 2.5 million plastic bottles of water every hour. (Most are thrown into the garbage, at best.) Yet despite these staggering numbers, many people in this country lack clean water, with Flint, Mich. being the most glaring example.
So now that the gods are finally showing us a little warmth, let’s get our thirsty masses down to Antarctica. Line up and harvest your own supply as the Larsen C shelf melts into the ocean!
Certainly, there are enough bottles lying around.
Impractical? Yes. But much easier solutions somehow elude us.