Weekly Links

Ice Displaces Water, So Melting Ice Won’t Cause Oceans to Rise

Weekly Links: brief commentary on local, state, and national stories from (roughly) the past week


Weather + Climate

Ice Displaces Water, So Melting Ice Won’t Cause Oceans to Rise

From Paste Magazine. On Monday, radio show host Bill Mitchell tweeted a statement purporting to refute the global rise in ocean levels: melting ice won’t result in rising oceans because ice takes up more space than water. So when that ice melts, it results in oceans taking up less space. This isn’t a completely outlandish idea –  if, like most people, you have a very basic understanding of ice, water, and the global climate. We’ve all experienced cans and bottles exploding from leaving them in the freezer too long because, as Mr. Mitchell stated, water expands when it freezes.


The problem with this theory is that it’s missing some critical facts. Oceans will rise when ice melts because (1) sea water expands when it warms; and (2) lots of ice on land is melting (i.e. ice that wasn’t already displacing water in the ocean). Add to that the fact that we’ve already observed the ocean actually rising as the Earth warms and ice melts.


Purely from an argumentative standpoint, no one is doing themselves any credit by attempting to refute widely observed and documented facts. While Mr. Mitchell would still be arguing against an overwhelming amount of evidence by stating that humans are not significantly influencing climate change, he’s arguing against basic observable facts by attempting to claim that ocean levels simply aren’t (or can’t be) rising. If you’re a lawyer, you certainly wouldn’t do your client or yourself any favor by arguing with the judge over whether they’re wearing a black robe.

Urban Planning

Out Goes a Fish Market, In Goes a Parking Lot

From The Economist. The most famous fish market in the world, Tokyo’s Tsukiji market, is closing after 80+ years to make way for…a parking lot. The market served 1,500 tones of fish a day and was the lifeblood of a working-class neighborhood sandwiched between the heart of the city and the Sumida River. Sushi master Hachiro Mizutani called it the “people’s market” and said he had dealt with the same trading families for half a century. Many of those families may not find a home when the market moves to the Toyosu Market, the former site of a landfill.

Apparently more loading and truck space is needed leading up to and during Tokyo’s hosting of the 2020 Olympics. The city doesn’t have a great track record for preserving important cultural and historical landmarks in hosting the games – it filled in and built expressways over a network of canals for the 1964 Olympics. Who knew Tokyo used to have canals? Closure of Tsukiji market may have been inevitable, though, as Tokyo claimed the building was unfit for earthquakes and was generally unhygienic.

Tsukiji Fish Market

A tiny sliver of the Tsukiji fish market. Photo Credit: User:Fisherman via Wikipedia


Supreme Court: No 1st Amendment Right to Advertise Toxic Substances

From The Los Angeles Times. In 2014 a California Appellate Court upheld a liability verdict against ConAgra and Sherwin-Williams for their role in distributing and advertising lead paint used in houses. The companies were ordered to pay $400 million to help in remediation efforts. Local governments used a public-nuisance theory, claiming that the companies helped introduce a known toxin to their communities. Even though lead paint was legal at the time, legal actions don’t necessary preclude you from violating state nuisance laws. Naturally, the companies sought review by the US Supreme Court hoping that the justices would agree that the penalty infringes on their free speech.

Wait, free speech? That’s right – the companies claimed that the verdict inhibits their 1st Amendment right to advertise lead paint. The Court is currently in the midst of evaluating 1st Amendment speech claims on a number of issues, including non-discrimination laws that inhibit or compel speech (such as forcing a baker to make a cake for a same-sex couple).

On Monday, the US Supreme Court refused to hear the company’s case. It only takes 4 justices to agree to hear a case, so a cursory reading of the denial may indicate that a majority of justices don’t feel compelled to entertain this type of 1st Amendment speech claim.

Geography/Land Use

Cities from 10,000 Feet

From The Atlantic. What does 7 square miles look like around the world? The Atlantic took snapshots from Google Earth of various patches of 7 square miles, ranging from cities to oceans to deserts. It’s worth checking out just to see the interesting patterns created by the natural environment. But the urban environments are just as fascinating. Compare the relatively well-ordered density of New York City and Mexico City to the winding streets of Tokyo.

There’s also the snapshot of the City of Giza, Egypt running right up to the Great Pyramids. It’s strange how we often feel disappointed to learn that the Great Pyramids of Giza or the Alamo are nestled in the shadows of modern society, but we tend to celebrate the juxtaposition of history and modern civilization in London or Rome.

Clockwise from top left: Tokyo, Mexico City, Giza, New York City



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