Another chunk of Rhode Island-sized Antarctic ice is perilously close to joining Larsen B and several other ice shelves of Ocean State circumference – give or take a suburb – in the open ocean. Glaciologist Angelika Humbert of Muenster University in Germany reported to Bloomberg News that the ice bridge that holds back the Wilkins ice shelf began to develop faults on April 2, with as many as 3,700 square kilometers in danger of breaking off. And while Wilkins may start out as another drifting, frozen Rhode Island, it will inevitably and rapidly begin melting into little barren Pawtuckets and Hope Valleys as a consequence of a warming planet.
Not for nothin’ but these days Antarctica is dropping Rhode Islands the way pregnant tiger snakes drop eggs. When Wilkins goes, it will be the seventh ice shelf to break away over the past 20 years. The Web site www.quahog.org, the state’s biggest repository of “size of Rhode Island” references – 152 and counting – registers 17 separate items under the category of “Icebergs.” Brief commentary in advance of the listings suggests that the site’s editors aren’t on board with the hotter Earth theorists, or as they put it “the global warming/sky is falling crowd.” Point of clarification, Quahog. We’re not a sky-is-falling crowd. (Those are the killer asteroid folks.) We’re a sea-is-rising crowd. Big difference. But in a flat Ocean State where just about everyone lives at sea level, most of us would probably rather take our chances playing dodge ball with a Rhode Island-sized asteroid.
Still, Quahog’s “Rhode Island as a Unit of Measure” (“Bigger than a breadbox, smaller than the universe!”) is a must-read for Rhody-files. For one thing, it’s far more organized than Half Shell, with separate size items categorized under Anatomy, Astral Bodies, Cities, Clothing, Computer Hardware, Counties, Countries, Deserts, Districts, Fictional Places, Fires, Flags, Food, Glaciers, Golf Courses, Holes, Icebergs, Islands, Jewelry, Maps, Military, “My State is Soooo Small …,” Oil Fields, “Parks, Sanctuaries and Wildlife Management Areas,” Ranches, Random Tracts of Geography, Real Estate, Regions and Territories, States and Provinces, “The Tunguska Event,” Vehicles, Water and Zones.
Enough to give Delawarians a Rhode Island-sized headache…
A day for Rhode Island
Next Monday is Rhode Island Independence Day. As far as we can tell, nobody in the state celebrates it. In fact, only two of us seem to know about it. And since most Rhode Islanders don’t get the day off, Half Shell will be posted as usual, sometime on Monday afternoon, this time offering suggestions on what Rhode Islanders might do on Rhode Island Independence Day. After all, next door in Massachusetts, folks celebrate Patriots Day by dressing up as Minutemen or Lobsterbacks and firing musketballs back and forth on Lexington Green. Then they strip down to shorts and sneakers to jog the 26.2 miles of Boston Marathon and later sneak into the bleachers for a beer and a hot sausage to watch the Red Sox play at Fenway. That’s a pretty full day. You’d think Rhode Island could at least spring for a few Puritan hats and pirate eye-patches at iParty and settle in for a festive day of silversmithing and duckpin bowling.
Leading to this week’s question: How will you spend Rhode Island Independence Day?