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Western Antarctic Ice Shelf at Risk of Melting

Guest Ban Ki-moon

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Guest Ban Ki-moon

Yesterday I was in Antarctica. It frightened me a bit to talk to the scientists there. You have heard how the famous Larsen ice shelf collapsed and disappeared several years ago, a slab of ice –- 87 kilometres long, disappeared completely, within weeks. It was the size of some small nations.


What alarms me is the possibility that “Larsen phenomenon” could repeat itself on a vastly greater scale. Scientists told me that the entire Western Antarctic Ice Shelf is at risk.


Like Larsen, it is all floating ice, comprising one fifth of the entire continent. If it broke up, sea levels could rise by 6 metres, or 18 feet. Think of that. Think of the effect on your coastline. It may not happen for 100 years or it may be 10. But when it happens, it could happen quickly, almost overnight in geological terms.


This is not scaremongering. I am not trying to frighten you but we are at a tipping point. This is a sign, a harbinger of our future.


That is why it is so important that we work together. We must save this precious earth, lest it become, as President Bachelet warned in New York in September, a kind of huge “ Easter Island” empty of people with only mysterious sculptures left to mark their disappearance.

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