Ourselves in

Boxing, that is. Via Think Progress, The U.S. Geological Survey now thinks that published estimates on how much sea levels will rise as a result of melting ice caps were a little on the light side.

Tom Armstrong, senior advisor for global change programs at the U.S. Geological Survey, said the report “shows how quickly the information is advancing” on potential climate shifts. The prospect of abrupt climate change, he said, “is one of those things that keeps people up at night, because it’s a low-probability but high-risk scenario. It’s unlikely to happen in our lifetimes, but if it were to occur, it would be life-changing.”

In one of the report’s most worrisome findings, the agency estimates that in light of recent ice sheet melting, global sea levels could rise as much as 4 feet by 2100. The intergovernment panel had projected a rise of no more than 1.5 feet by that time, but satellite data over the last two years show the world’s major ice sheets are melting much more rapidly than previously thought. The Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets are losing an average of 48 cubic miles of ice a year, equivalent to twice the amount of ice in the Alps.

So we can continue with the out-of-sight-out-of-mind routine until further notice and new models have been developed which can present finally-irrefutable proof that was has been happening all along has, in fact, been happening all along. Great.

But in the meantime, just until we decide it’s too late to do anything, how about some massive public infrastructure spending to alleviate some of what might be the causes of the above? Ahem.

Building the San Francisco-to-Los Angeles and Anaheim line that will be the spine of the system will cost between $32.8 billion and $33.6 billion, according to the High Speed Rail Authority’s business report. Extensions built later would cost another $12 billion. In addition to the $10 billion from state bond sales, the authority is counting on $12 billion to $16 billion in federal funds plus $6.5 billion to $7.5 billion in private investment and $2 billion to $3 billion in local contributions.

Whoa. Sexy numbers like that are usually reserved an investment bank bailout or derivatives swindle. And this to build something no one will own, that only benefits the public? Who even goes there?

Update: Catching up on Krugman for the last few days, he explains the econ 101 behind my last bit of pith there.