Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Wilkins Shelf



On Aldous Huxley's Island, Mynah birds were trained to call, "Attention! Attention!"

"Attention to what?", one character asked. "To attention." was the reply.

Well, here's the news story I think worth paying attention to. The collapse of the Wilkins ice shelf. It's interesting to read the different reports around the world and what land mass each compares the ice shelf area to. In the U.S., the collapsed area is 7 times the size of Manhattan or in England, the Isle of Man. In New Zealand, the entire shelf is the size of the Hawke's Bay region, in the U.S., the state of Connecticut. The National Geographic report is quite good and thorough.

If there's any humor to be found in this, it's definitely in the reporting. A couple of the video reports I watched began with commercials for humongous SUVs rampaging through scenes of primeval forest. I can't seem to locate it now but the original footage of aerial images I found had a musical soundtrack like John Williams' Star Wars that was a bit, um, disconcerting.

Looking at the images on a tiny screen, it's difficult for me to get the sense of the enormity of the ice mass. 160 square mile area, 60 feet high or so above the surface of the water, miles long cracks. The collapse was expected, but not for another 15 - 30 years. It sort of seems far away but, really, what's far away anymore?

I know that blogs are supposed to be light and entertaining - especially artist blogs. Light and encouraging and and promotional in subtle or more blatant manners. Don't get too heavy or you'll lose your readers. I just read a post somewhere on that (or something to that effect.) Well, it's important and interesting to pay attention to the planet we inhabit. Especially now. Especially for artists concerned with landscape.

I really can't say that there's anything to do about these sorts of things if governments and multi-national corporations refuse to make change. Unless we all get really radical and agree to cooperate and put our lives on the line — at the very least, our ways of life on the line.

I've been reading recent articles by James Lovelock who thinks that "global warming" is too cozy a term and that it should be referred to as "global heating". Having always concurred with his views because they seem most sensible and truthful, if not most comfortable, I think he's right. Often called gloomy and doomy, Lovelock considers himself an optimist and recommends "Enjoy life while you can!"

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