Bad News from Antarctica – the Ice Sheets Are Melting, and Fast (wonkish)

Here’s about as chilling a lede* as you’ll see in an American newspaper these days:

A hundred years from now, humans may remember 2014 as the year that we first learned that we may have irreversibly destabilized the great ice sheet of West Antarctica, and thus set in motion more than 10 feet of sea level rise.


Nature Geoscience via

Ten Feet?  That would turn Florida into Venice – the ground floor of almost every building would be uninhabitable. Miami Beach already has salt water sloshing its way through the sewers into the streets. This is not good news.

This is the big issue, and it’s complicated. I highly recommend this story from the Washington Post about how the Antarctic ice shelves are melting and falling into the sea because the water under them is too warm. The story is specific and detailed, and has some links you should follow and read closely.

One of the major surprises, to me at least, is how much water the shelves contain.

Americans have a greater risk than most

As Americans, our risk is greater than most. There’s probably some justice in that — we’ve contributed more than any other country to the carbon dioxide level in the air, and as one result of developing such a strong economy we have more resources than any other country, which is to say we can afford to build seawalls around Miami and New York.

This explanation of our heightened risk is interesting in itself:

Northern Hemisphere residents and Americans in particular should take note — when the bottom of the world loses vast amounts of ice, those of us living closer to its top get more sea level rise than the rest of the planet, thanks to the law of gravity.

Read the whole story, plus the links, if you’re not sure why gravity will make sea-level rise affect us more than other countries.

Good news – If you’re an adult it probably won’t have a huge direct impact on you, but (bad news) your children and grandchildren will pay the price.

  • In my days as a journalist in Washington and Europe, the name of the first paragraph was “lead.” Now it’s morphed into “lede.” Same thing. Maybe next year it’ll be “leed.”
If you’d like to receive my blog posts and occasional newsletters by email, please subscribe by leaving your email address below:

Here’s why you should schedule your trip to Paris NOW! – the Euro

Euro notes Tue 03-17-15 small

Remember all the political talk about the debasement of the dollar? If you’ve been following exchange rates lately you’ll understand that debasement, like the looming inflation that was about to devour the American economy, has been sort of … weak. Like nonexistent. Wonkblog (Washington Post) posted an astute analysis of the Euro/Dollar situation and came to the same conclusion I … Continue reading

Book Marketing on a Shoestring

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 8.26.28 PM

No one could be happier than I that Doris-Maria Heilmann has published an author’s road map to sales success, “Book Marketing on a Shoestring.” Her advice for the marketing of my novel “Treasure of Saint-Lazare” helped it reach #39 on the all-Kindle best-seller list and in being chosen the best historical mystery of 2014 by the Readers’ Favorite book-review site. If … Continue reading

How The New York Times gets made every day

Popular Mechanics did a long and interesting story — especially fascinating for ex-journalists — about the nuts-and-bolts process of taking The New York Times from bits and bytes to finished product, one of the last profitable daily newspapers. Tatiana Repkova of Media Managers Club spotted this and included it in her weekly list of significant journalism stories. If international journalism … Continue reading

A Passion for Paris – on Valentine’s Day

Paris in Love

What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day in the most romantic of cities than with the author and photographer Alison Harris, whose most recent book is Paris in Love, and her husband David Downie, author of the forthcoming A Passion for Paris and many other Paris books. The English-language service of France24 interviewed both of them recently for its Encore! … Continue reading

Charlie Hebdo: The yawning gap between fact and fear, La Marseillaise, and moving national ceremonies in Paris

Count on The Economist to bring complicated issues into sharp focus with a single well-constructed graphic, such as the one it published on the day of the Charlie Hebdo massacre. (See it here on the Graphic Detail blog. ($)) But first, run your own thought experiment by answering these questions: What percentage of the population of your country is Muslim? Has … Continue reading

The French 9/11


I wasn’t going to post about Charlie Hebdo because — what can you say? But I thought the front-page picture from tomorrow’s issue of Le Monde was so striking I couldn’t pass it by: If you’d like to receive my blog posts and occasional newsletters by email, please subscribe by leaving your email address below: Email address: … Continue reading

Favorite This is really a big deal …


The NYT reports today that France has agreed to pay $60 million to compensate Holocaust victims who were deported on the French National Railways during World War II. The agreement will have to be approved by the French Parliament, which should not be a major obstacle because the government’s party still holds a majority. It calls for paying the money directly to … Continue reading

Will we catch up with Europe in credit-card security at last?


I WRITE ABOUT PARIS, but this story is true there and absolutely every other place in Europe: You go to the restaurant, and all around you the locals are paying with plastic. They push their card into the small wireless machine the waiter brings to the table, key in a PIN, get their receipt, and leave. No signature required, and it’s … Continue reading

Favorite Flyover tour of Paris on iOS


There’s a neat new feature in Apple’s MAPS app under iOS – Flyover. It’s available for several major cities, but of course I think the Paris one is the neatest. Open Maps on the iPhone or iPad and search for Paris. Under the city name you’ll see a line saying “3D Flyover Tour of Paris.” Press “Start” to the right … Continue reading