greygirlbeast (greygirlbeast) wrote,

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Not Quite Breathing a Sigh of Relief.

This afternoon, while I worked, I kept the TV on the NASA Channel, trying not to be nervous about whether or not the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter would manage a successful insertion. I'd get up every ten or fifteen minutes to see how things were going. I literally chewed a hole in my bottom lip during the half hour of radio silence as the orbiter passed behind Mars. But everything went the way it was supposed to, and if it continues to go that way, as the great elliptical orbit slowly evolves into a tight circular one, then come November we'll be getting some absolutely amazing data. It's stuff like this that keeps me moving. I kid you not.

Meanwhile, taking the bad with the good, which is one of my superpowers, a new study by NASA and the University of Colorado at Boulder, published in Science, seems to conclusively indicate that the Antarctic ice sheet is shrinking by as much as thirty-six cubic miles of ice a year. One of the authors of the study, Isabella Velicogna, has stated that "The ice sheet is losing mass at a significant rate." Indeed, the ice is melting more rapidly than previously thought, and increased Antarctic snowfall (also the result of global warming) does not appear to be slowing the melting and increasing ice-sheet mass, as hoped. And, of course, this news comes just a couple of months after NASA findings that the Arctic/Greenland ice sheet is also melting more rapidly than believed. To quote a NASA press release, "Greenland's ice sheet decreased by 162 (plus or minus 22) cubic kilometers a year between 2002 and 2005. This is higher than all previously published estimates, and it represents a change of about 0.4 millimeters (.016 inches) per year to global sea level rise." And at the present rate of melting, the loss of ice in Antarctica is adding an additional annual sea level rise of 0.4 millimeters a year.

Velicogna described these results a "wake-up call," but how many times have I heard that before? Wasn't Katrina and the 2005 hurricane season enough of a wake-up call? How many different ways do humans have to break a planet? I want to feel celebratory right now, not all frelling doom and gloom. I want to look forward to seeing more of Mars, but it's hard to stop thinking about how rough things are getting down here on Earth. Anyway...

Too much thinking today. My brain won't seem to stay on any one problem for longer than five minutes. I did come to the conclusion that I don't mean transhumanism. I mean parahumanism. I spent part of the day reading Anders Sandberg's writing on morphological freedom.

I need some sleep, I think.
Tags: antarctica, global warming, mars, morphological freedom, mro, parahumanism

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