By now, many of you have heard about the giant ice cube that recently broke off from the Wilkins Ice Shelf on the Western Coast of Antarctica. It's the latest in a series of eyebrow-raising, canary-in-the-mineshaft reminders that this global warming thing (whomever you choose, or don't choose, to blame for it) is really happening, and happening fast. (Because this particular chunk of the WIS is floating on water, not sitting on land, it's not going to raise sea levels when it finally breaks off, not that that makes us feel a whole lot better about it.)
But what's really amazing, and kind of difficult to comprehend, about this kind of phenomenon, is the sheer size of ice sheet we're talking about. The "ice cube" that broke off was about 160 square miles -- about three Lichtensteins, to be less exact -- but the Wilkins Ice Shelf itself, which scientists say is now in danger of breaking off entirely, is much, much larger -- a whopping 5,282 square miles. To help us get a better sense of scale, EnviroWonk (cousin of EcoGeek) has put together a fun/scary list called "10 Things Smaller Than The Wilkins Ice Shelf."
1. Delaware (2,489 square miles)
2. Everglades National Park (2,357 square miles)
3. Jamaica (4,243 square miles): They could probably use some of that ice.
4. Yellowstone National Park (3,468 square miles)
5. Rhode Island (1,545 square miles): Though to be fair, there are people in Alaska with backyards larger than the Ocean State.
6. Ghawar Oil Field (3,243 square miles): Yes, there is an oil field in Saudi Arabia that's larger than Delaware.
7. Puerto Rico (3,515 square miles)
8. The Falkland Islands (4,700 square miles)
9. 81 District of Columbias (68.3 square miles)
10. Los Angeles County (4,752 square miles): Which, with its population of 10 million people, answers the question, "How many people could live on the Wilkins Ice Shelf?"
For dramatic effect, here's a picture of Los Angeles:
And for comedic effect, here's my favorite film clip featuring Delaware: