What happened to the sheet ice?
Something horrible and irreversible.
Can you be a little more specific?
According to NASA, the melt of the Antarctic sheet ice “appears unstoppable.” UNSTOPPABLE!
What is our first concern?
Sea levels over the next century may rise even more than we have predicted, which could displace millions of people from coastal areas.
What is our second concern?
I fear we may unleash some sort of Lovecraftian, eldritch horror from beneath the ice or around the poles.
We might awaken the Elder Gods, or at the very least unleash a horde of shoggoths. (Is horde the correct term? Cats come in clowters, owls come in parliaments, crows socialize in murders — what do shoggoths group in?)
Have you actually read Lovecraft?
No, but I heard on Wikipedia that this is where these things reside, and I got worried about it.
Are you also worried about The Thing? Or the vengeful ghost of Robert Falcon Scott?
Should I be?
But wait, is this melt reversible?
Sometimes people say things are reversible that aren’t actually reversible, like certain windbreakers. Are you sure that, when you say this is irreversible, you actually mean it?
That question was poorly worded.
What about the charismatic megafauna?
Why do you ask?
I only care about environmental crises that might jeopardize charismatic megafauna. Excluding the sage grouse, which is not as charismatic as any of us were hoping when we put it in front of the camera.
Maybe it was stressed.
I’d be stressed if I were a sage grouse and my whole survival as a species depended on impressing someone like you. I can barely get a date Saturday nights, and that only requires impressing someone of my own species who understands me when I try to communicate and doesn’t turn off the TV complaining that I was just sitting there staring with sort of a goggly expression and refuse to donate any funds.
You aren’t a sage grouse.
Okay, so, you mean polar bears and suchlike? Harp seals? Humpback whales?
Yes, that’s what I mean! Those guys know charisma!
Would you be moved if I told you this would affect our coastal regions?
Our coastal regions? But that’s where I keep all my stuff!
Well, at some point over the next century, you should move that stuff.
Can this be reversed?
Here is what a scientist had to say: “No.”
Maybe the scientist was saying it in some other context. Scientists use lots of words going through their lives that can be taken out of context, words like “No” and “Yes” and “Give me some of that ice before we run out” and “That cougar is truly fearsome” that sound more ominous than they actually are.
No, this was in context.
But it was a NASA scientist, and what have NASA scientists done for us in the decades since the moon landing?
Look, NASA scientists are the world’s leading experts in watching things shrink more than they expected over time. They have spent decades staring at their own budget.
Should we panic?
Yes! YES! EVERYONE PANIC! Everyone panic, but stay cool, to keep the melting from speeding up. Panic slowly and calmly.
How long do we have?
At a minimum, two hundred years. Hey, wait, where are you going?
What happened to the sheet ice?