Ice Melting in Antarctica

Boing Boing reader Kevin Fox and his wife Rachel went on an excursion to Antarctica last month and took some amazing photos. "We're telling the story at in a serial form and we're about 1/4th of the way through," Kevin tells us. Their flickr set is here. I love the photos of cracking, breaking, melting ice. I'm also fond of the seal portraits.


  1. Wow talk about BB closing ranks on the guestblogger who spammed their site with pseudo-scientific drivel. Good work guys.

  2. “Planet being destroyed”? LOL.

    Only the environmental movement could possibly come up with the notion that an abundance of life returning to formally (mostly) lifeless areas is a bad thing.

    I am wondering how many people know that there are frozen, dead tree under all that ice on the continent of Antarctica.

    Personally, I hope that ice melts so life can return there. Life is a good thing.

    (and, no, we’re not all going to drown…)

  3. #11: Save the Planet? Nothing wrong with the planet. The planet is fine. The PEOPLE are f**ked.

    -George Carlin

  4. How can you “love” photos of our planet being destroyed?

    There’s always beauty wrapped up in tragedy. That’s what makes life so damn interesting.

  5. @9: I’m sure the guys over at would be happy to put a page up at that address. Penguins and seals? Check. :)

  6. Only the environmental movement could possibly come up with the notion that an abundance of life returning to formally (mostly) lifeless areas is a bad thing.

    It’s not a bad thing for life.

    It’s a bad thing for human life.

    All those trees and roots in the arctic never decomposed, but they will once they warm up. That will dwarf human emissions and will be our doing.

    That is all.

  7. @17
    How do you know it’s bad for human life? There will be change, surely. But I don’t think anyone can confidently predict how it will affect us on a grand scale as a species.

  8. When you think about it, if there’s more melting there may be more evaporation, which might lead to more rain and snow, which is a good thing. Snow will build glaciers and before you know it we’ll have a new ice age up north. Which I should just assume is starting now since this year we have a new record for cold and snow in Detroit.

  9. @15, I also just got back from Antartica. It’s plenty warm enough in the summer to melt freshwater ice. Temperatures were above freezing many of the days we were there.


  10. @ Jeff #19:

    Lack of rain and snow in some areas isn’t due to a global lack of water. Most of the planet is covered in the stuff!

  11. “It’s a bad thing for human life.”

    Any evidence?

    “All those trees and roots in the arctic never decomposed, but they will once they warm up. That will dwarf human emissions and will be our doin”

    Any evidience?

    Didn’t think so.

  12. @18 & 22

    A Fairly Confident Perspective of “It’s a bad thing for human life”:

    Somewhat Convincing Evidence about “”All those trees and roots in the arctic never decomposed, but they will once they warm up. That will dwarf human emissions and will be our doing”

    A Grand Scale Species Perspective:

    Harry Lime: “You know, I never feel comfortable on these sort of things. Victims? Don’t be melodramatic. Look down there. Tell me. Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you twenty thousand pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money, or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man. Free of income tax – the only way you can save money nowadays.”

  13. A little surprised to see the global warming polemicists come out of the woodwork for some vacation photos. It’s as if you’re blaming the photographers for the damage.

    In any event, truly wonderful photos. I wish we were all as rich as these folks so we could go on a luxury expedition like this.

  14. PrometheusG

    “There will be change, surely. But I don’t think anyone can confidently predict how it will affect us on a grand scale as a species.”

    “I don’t think…” < => “Let me pull this out of my ass…”

    We do know and the projections have been publish for a long time now. All life is being pushed towards the poles. All arctic life will be forced off planet. The equatorial regions are turning to desert. When this is over there will be about one billion humans, most likely not you. Mostly of humanity will be congregated at the poles which will be temperate to tropical.

    Iceland will be a tropical island. Capische?

  15. “Stayed on deck till midnight. The sun just dipped below the southern horizon. The scene was incomparable. The northern sky was gloriously rosy and reflected in the calm sea between the ice, which varied from burnished copper to salmon pink; bergs and pack to the north had a pale greenish hue with deep purple shadows, the sky shaded to saffron and pale green. We gazed long at these beautiful effects.”

    Scott’s Last Expedition, vol. i. p. 25. (as referenced in “The Worst Journey in the World” by Apsley Cherry-Garrard, …highly recommended)

    Thank you Project Gutenberg:

  16. Nn,

    Spkng f pllng thngs frm sss, hw d th ppl wh mk ths “prjctns” bt hw clnd wll b trpcl slnd knw wht xtrns (nn-hmn) fctrs t tk nt ccnt?

    Fr xmpl, th sn s gng thrgh prd f nr zr snspt ctvty. D ths prjctns bt trpcl clnd tk th sn nd ts clmt nt ccnt? Dn’t knw ngh t rlly cmmnt n th mttr? Tht’s ky. Y jst kp plwng dwn tht rd f ccptng vry crckpt “wrld s dmd nd mn s csng t” thry tht y rd. Sr, clnd wll b trpcl slnd. nd hw ld wll y b thn?

  17. @23

    Neither of the WHO and physorg links relate specifically to Antarctic ice melting. I don’t think one can suppose that because it would be bad for the Arctic glaciers to melt, it would also have the same outcome for the Antarctic glaciers. I could be wrong of course, but the links you gave do not prove anything in the context of the thread.

  18. #29 – There is much work currently being done to get the Antarctic Visitor Guidelines passed into law. In the mean time all cruise ships and most expeditions who visit Antarctica are members of the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), and strictly follow the guidelines laid out by the IAATO found here:

    As guests in Antarctica we were taught these guidelines before we even had our lifeboat drills and we held to them throughout our trip. We did vigorous cleaning and Virkon disinfecting of our boots and clothing that touched the ground before and after leaving the boat each time so not to spread germs from one animal colony to another. We followed the rules on animal conduct and in so doing learned more than I would have expected to about the Antarctic world. I personally hold an incredible respect and awe for this continent, even more so from having visited. We were very careful about how we treated the area and our boat also showed us the systems in place to help keep pollutants from all places they visit.

    This is an amazing place where we can learn, observe and be a part of this strange cold wilderness. It needs be treated with vast respect, and I don’t think anyone knows this better than those who have visited and those who work hard to preserve and share this wonderful place. I believe that experiencing and sharing Antarctica is the best way increase respect for the place and the need to keep it safe.

    -Rachel Fox

  19. @92 Zuzu from

    Opportunity cost sucks but good luck calculating an alternative with a higher cost than the discontinuation of the human race.

    In the meantime, the starving, homeless, diseased, uneducated and unthinking would be better served by projects with higher opportunity costs like our approaches to agriculture, housing, healthcare, education and the military.

  20. Although Echonomist at #31 has already said it better than I could have, since I’ve already gone to the trouble of re-emvowelling and moving my post from that other thread, it seems a shame to waste it. Therefore:

    #92 posted by zuzu on that thread read as follows:

    @87 echonomist

    Good point about the similarity between global warming and Pascal’s Wager. If we’re not causing it, it’s not such a big deal as long as the planet remains sufficiently hospitable to humans. But if we are, the consequences may be severe: are we killing ourselves off?

    Opportunity cost is a bitch. What could we have done with all of the resources we instead “wasted” on global warming if somehow we’re wrong about it?

    More people will have starved, gone homeless, died of disease, had reduced access to education and tools for thought, and so on.”

    And if we do nothing about mediating human effects upon global warming, and in the end it does make the planet inhospitable to human civilization (and therefore to the education, thought, etc. that go along with said civilization), then what? Isn’t that an even higher price?

  21. @31 Echonomist

    Juxtaposing all of the problems, rather than taking them in isolation, is pretty much the value of books such as Cool It by Bjorn Lomborg that Charles Pratt posted about.

    However, the point I made regarding your analogy to Pascal’s Wager is that being wrong about global warming has real significant costs (which is quite the opposite of the point of Pascal’s Wager, actually). So it’s not as if there’s no harm in trying; not to mention problems of unintended consequences for how we do it. (Especially with government mandates and bogonomics like carbon tax / credits.)

    Of course, as I said, I happen to be currently convinced that global warming is a problem due to the carbon cycle and humans putting too much of the CO2 into the atmosphere. I also like James Lovelock’s solution of biochar.

  22. Agreed that Pascal’s Wager involves there being one side in which there is no harm (according to Pascal; I feel somewhat differently about it) and that in the question of what to do wrt GW, there are costs on all sides. However, again, the costs can – and should – be weighed relative to one another, and given that the cost of doing nothing could well be the loss of our ability to sustain anything approaching a high-level civilization (or worse), that pretty much outweighs anything on the other side.

  23. @31 Your previous relevant post’s last sentence brought the problems I addressed to the table. I juxtaposed them to emphasize what I think their opportunity cost was relative to not addressing global warming, anthropogenic or not. I don’t think either of us have the time to address such complex topics in a discussion like this sufficiently.

    It’s not a perfect analogy but I don’t think it’s as far off as you make it out to be. The payout for Global warming/God and believing in them is incalculable but the consequences for not doing so are not. Addressing global warming might end up being very expensive but I haven’t insisted that tax payers foot the bill or pass the buck to industry via mandate yet. But if a hundred billion dollars less were spent on defense and a hundred billion dollars more were spent combating global warming, I wouldn’t complain.

    Carbon sequestration, in one form or another, isn’t a bad short term solution to preventing more CO2 from entering the atmosphere. Scientists must continue modeling our global climate and considering threats to our existence and coming up with solutions to these threats.

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