Poetic justice

Lab Notes : Poetic Justice in Climate Change

Not that anything about global warming is fair, but one of the most unjust things about it is that the nations that have spewed most of the greenhouse gases into the atmosphere tend to be in the north (the U.S., Europe and now China), while the nations that stand to suffer the most—as in having their entire island covered by the rising seas—tend to be in the south. If a German researcher is right, it looks like nations will reap what they sow.

According to a new paper by Detlef Stammer of Hamburg University, once Greenland melts, most of the water will hang around in the Atlantic Ocean rather than spreading through the world’s seas. As New Scientist reported, most of the meltwater will add to the Atlantic for some 50 years, causing sea levels to rise—and rise more than if the water were evenly distributed around the globe, which it will not be. As Stammer told the magazine, a melting Greenland “is much less of a threat to tropical islands in the Pacific than it is for the coasts of North America and Europe.”

Call it poetic justice, climatologically.

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