29 April 2005

Florence Nightingale has morphed into Vampira

The state of the American health care system.
Healthcare costs are sucking the blood out of the economy, for one thing. Consider poor General Motors, once the nation's flagship corporation and now sinking under the weight of its employee health benefits — which account for $1,500 of the sticker price of each new vehicle. As GM contemplates bankruptcy, other companies thrash around frantically trying to shed their insurance-needy American employees. They downsize and outsource — anything to escape the burden of health costs. The result? Our "jobless recovery": Companies don't want to assume responsibility for their workers' medical bills and — this being the global temple of free enterprise — neither does the government.

Then there are the U.S. health system's toxic effects on individuals, and I'm not referring to Vioxx or the approximately 200,000 people who die each year as a result of "medical mistakes," but to its financial effects. Harvard's Elizabeth Warren recently co-wrote a study showing that more than half of all personal bankruptcies are triggered by medical costs, and it's easy enough to see how. If you lose your job — through, say, downsizing or outsourcing — you lose your health insurance, and the uninsured are routinely charged up to three times more than those who have an insurance company to negotiate their hospital bills. As for emergency rooms, which the hardhearted or incurious imagine absorbing all the poor and uninsured — well, the average visit to an ER now costs a little over $1,000, which is a high price to pay for an asthma attack or an infant's fever.

26 April 2005

Whatever understandable lack of physical courage he displayed as a teenager is trumped a thousand times over by moral cowardice today

An insightful piece that echoes my thoughts on Pope Benedict XVI and his Nazi history as a youth in WWII Germany.
Clearly, when Ratzinger and his brother (who is also a priest) say that anti-Nazi resistance was "impossible," they're lying. And it's not an insignificant or harmless lie. Denying the option of resistance insults, indeed, denies the existence of, a lot of people who made far braver and more difficult decisions than the Ratzingers. Failing to exhibit extraordinary courage is human and understandable. Denying the extraordinarily courageous their due is shameful. Denying moral agency is surely unworthy of a man who would be pope.

The Ratzingers lie about this because if they admit that moral choices were involved, they'd have to explain their choice. In fact, I would suggest that anyone who cared about moral agency would recognize the need for self-reflection, for either admitting moral failure, or asserting moral principles. I can think of many possible explanations, but none of them fit well into black and white morality.

It's not that he was swept up in the tide of the time as a powerless youth, it's the notion that they had no choice at all. I could accept the justification that a frightened 14 year old would be incapable of arriving at such a moral decision, but to pronounce that there was no other choice strikes me as troublesome, because others in that setting faced the same peril, and came to a completely different conscientous choice.

A state of denial exists among policymakers and outsourcing’s corporate champions about the adverse effects

Outsourcing is a greater threat than terrorism.
In what might be an underestimate, a University of California study concludes that 14 million white-collar jobs are vulnerable to being outsourced offshore. These are not only call-center operators, customer service and back-office jobs, but also information technology, accounting, architecture, advanced engineering design, news reporting, stock analysis, and medical and legal services.

The authors note that these are the jobs of the American Dream, the jobs of upward mobility that generate the bulk of the tax revenues that fund our education, health, infrastructure, and social security systems.

The loss of these jobs "is fool’s gold for companies." Corporate America’s short-term mentality, stemming from bonuses tied to quarterly results, is causing US companies to lose not only their best employees—their human capital—but also the consumers who buy their products.

Employees displaced by foreigners and left unemployed or in lower paid work have a reduced presence in the consumer market. They provide fewer retirement savings for new investment.

17 April 2005

The economic tsunami planned by the Bush administration is probably only months away

In just 5 short years the national debt has increased by nearly 3 trillion dollars while the dollar has fallen a whopping 38%.
The Bush administration is mainly comprised of internationalists. That doesn't mean that they "hate America"; simply that they are committed to bringing America into line with the "new world order" and an economic regime that has been approved by corporate and financial elites alike. Their patriotism extends no further than the garish tri-colored flag on their lapel. The catastrophe that middle class Americans face is what these elites breezily refer to as "shock therapy"; a sudden jolt, followed by fundamental changes to the system. In the near future we can expect tax reform, fiscal discipline, deregulation, free capital flows, lowered tariffs, reduced public services, and privatization. In other words, a society entirely designed to service the needs of corporations.

There are a number of signs that the economy is close to meltdown-stage. Even with cheap energy, low interest rates and $450 billion in borrowed revenue pumped into the system each year, the economy is still barely treading water. This has a lot to due with the colossal shifting of wealth brought on by the tax cuts. Supply-side, trickle-down theories have been widely discredited and Bush's tax cuts have done nothing to stimulate the economy as promised. Now, with oil tilting towards $60 per barrel, the economic landscape is changing quickly, and shock-waves are already being felt throughout the country.

The Iraq war has contributed considerably to our current dilemma. The conflict has taken nearly one million barrels of Iraqi oil per day off line.(The exact amount that the administration is trying to replace by pressuring OPEC) In other words, the astronomical prices at the pump are the direct result of Bush's war. The media has failed to report on the negative affects the war has had on oil production, just as they have obscured the incredibly successful insurgent strategy of destroying pipelines. This isn't a storyline that plays well to the American public, who expected that Iraq would be paying for its own reconstruction by now. Instead, the resistance is striking back at the empire's Achilles heel (America's need for massive amounts of cheap oil) and its having a damaging affect on the US economy.

16 April 2005

There were more terrorist attacks in 2004 than in any year since 1985

Consequently, the Bush State department has decided to cease publishing its annual report on international terrorism.
Several U.S. officials defended the abrupt decision, saying the methodology the National Counterterrorism Center used to generate statistics for the report may have been faulty, such as the inclusion of incidents that may not have been terrorism.

Last year, the number of incidents in 2003 was undercounted, forcing a revision of the report, "Patterns of Global Terrorism."

But other current and former officials charged that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's office ordered "Patterns of Global Terrorism" eliminated several weeks ago because the 2004 statistics raised disturbing questions about the Bush's administration's frequent claims of progress in the war against terrorism.

"Instead of dealing with the facts and dealing with them in an intelligent fashion, they try to hide their facts from the American public," charged Larry C. Johnson, a former CIA analyst and State Department terrorism expert who first disclosed the decision to eliminate the report in The Counterterrorism Blog, an online journal.

The sad part is that the American people have been so sheeplike

An excellent column by Charley Reese regarding the immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq.
It would pay us all to remember that the war in Iraq was both unjust and illegal. We launched a war of aggression against a country that was not attacking us, did not have the means to attack us, and had never expressed any intention of attacking us.

Thus, America's attack against Iraq is the same as Germany's attack against Poland in 1939. We were the aggressor, pure and simple, and for whatever real reason we attacked Iraq, it was not to save America from any danger, imminent or otherwise.

12 April 2005

The real culprit behind these higher oil prices is the Bush Administration

Thanks to massive deficits, and tax give-aways to the rich and corporations, to its war spending, and to its failure to combat unpredecedented and even larger trade deficits.
Increasingly, concern is being expressed by treasury officials and economists about the negative impact soaring oil prices and related gas prices could have on the overall economy. Politicians-especially Republicans-- are also fretting, since the thousands of extra dollars consumers are now spending on electricity, home heating and gasoline have, for all but the wealthiest taxpayers, more than cancelled out any minimal benefits they saw from the president's tax cuts.

Oil is a commodity and it is priced in dollars. If dollars decline in value, then the price of oil will rise in inverse proportion.

nd this situation is likely to get only worse. Some Wall Street oil industry analysts are now predicting that oil could, before too long, hit $100 a barrel. What they are saying really is that the dollar is likely to fall in value by 50 percent.

Adjusted for inflation, gasoline prices are still a far cry from the peak price paid in 1981. Nevertheless, demand for gasoline is highly inelastic, and thus more money out of the family budget is earmarked for fillup time. And compounding the matter, worker wages are not keeping pace with prices.

For the first time in 14 years, the American workforce has in effect gotten an across-the-board pay cut.

The growth in wages in 2004 and the first two months of this year trailed inflation, compounding the squeeze from higher housing, energy and other costs.

Meanwhile, corporate profits hit record highs as companies got more productivity out of workers while keeping pay increases down.

All this means less money for eating out, hobbies, vacations, which in turn snowballs into woes for small business, retailers and any purveyors of goods and services.

We think the price is worth it

So responded Madeleine Albright, former US ambassador to the UN, when queried on the fact that more Iraqi children died as a result of sanctions than those who perished in Hiroshima in the wake of an atomic bomb. George W. Bush would probably say the same thing as Madeline Albright, regarding the illegal and immoral invasion of a sovereign nation that posed no threat to the security of the United States. Child malnutrition in Iraq has doubled since the American invasion.
A report to the UN human rights commission in Geneva has concluded that Iraqi children were actually better off under Saddam Hussein than they are now.

This, of course, comes as a bitter blow for all those of us who, like George Bush and Tony Blair, honestly believe that children thrive best when we drop bombs on them from a great height, destroy their cities and blow up hospitals, schools and power stations.

It now appears that, far from improving the quality of life for Iraqi youngsters, the US-led military assault on Iraq has inexplicably doubled the number of children under five suffering from malnutrition. Under Saddam, about 4% of children under five were going hungry, whereas by the end of last year almost 8% were suffering.

Toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad will be recorded as one of the great moments in the history of liberty

President Bush equates a US Army psychological warfare operation in 2003 with the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Wow, the chutzpah — considering that the Saddam statue toppling was an entirely staged event:

Earlier this year, another Los Angeles Times scoop (6/3/04) revealed that one of the most enduring images of the war-- the toppling of the statue of Saddam Hussein in a Baghdad square on April 9, 2003-- was a U.S. Army psychological warfare operation staged to look like a spontaneous Iraqi action:

"As the Iraqi regime was collapsing on April 9, 2003, Marines converged on Firdos Square in central Baghdad, site of an enormous statue of Saddam Hussein. It was a Marine colonel-- not joyous Iraqi civilians, as was widely assumed from the TV images -- who decided to topple the statue, the Army report said. And it was a quick-thinking Army psychological operations team that made it appear to be a spontaneous Iraqi undertaking."

Here's the text of the LA Times article that confirmed what alternative media sources had already reported.

And the ouster of a tin pot dictator and subsequent descent into violent chaos is believed to be equivalent to the peaceful (mostly) overthrow of communism that gripped a third of the developed world?

» read more

8 April 2005

We can take our ship anywhere we want

Forget outsourcing, these enterprising minds are planning a slave ship for computer programmers, parked in international waters, to avoid dealing with immigration visa issues.
Take a used cruise ship, plant it in international waters three miles off the coast of El Segundo, near Los Angeles, people it with 600 of the brightest software engineers they can find around the world (both men and women), and run a 24-hour-a-day programming shop, thereby avoiding H-1B visa hassles while still exploiting offshore labor cost arbitrage and completing development projects in half the time they’d take onshore or offshore.

“As more people have run the [offshore] gauntlet and found the joys of traveling to India coach class and having three weeks of stuff on their desk when they come back, [they discover] it’s much more disruptive than they ever imagined it would be,” explains Mr. Green.

Naturally, most of the "hires" will be from India. A prison boat, floating off the coast of California to supplant American professional workers.

We're flying the wings off it

Over 700 remotely piloted aircraft, from low flying Ravens on patrol to Hellfire air-to-ground missle armed Predators occupy the skies of Iraq.
Never before has the American military used so many remotely piloted aircraft in such diverse missions, and many officers call them the wave of the future.

At a command hub spread among a half dozen dimly lit trailers at this air base just off the Las Vegas Strip, the future is now. Small teams of remote-control warriors nudge joysticks to fly armed Predator aircraft 7,500 miles away. Once the Predators take off in Iraq or Afghanistan for missions, the air crews here take over.

The Predator, which can carry Hellfire air-to-ground missiles, is the best-known of the remotely piloted fleet. It is an ungainly, propeller-driven craft that flies as slowly as 80 miles per hour, and can loiter continuously for 24 hours or more at 10,000 to 15,000 feet above the battlefield.

In each trailer, a pilot and co-pilot , who operate the Predator's zoom lens, radar and infrared sensors, sit side-by-side before an array of consoles and computer screens that let them see what the Predator sees while they talk to troops on the ground by radio or e-mail. Soldiers and ground spotters can receive live video images from the Predator on specially equipped laptop computers.

In one sense, any advance in technology that spares the lives of soldiers is a welcome progression of affairs, but I don't think I'd like to live an a land where automated drones with guided weapon capability fly overhead of my home. Killing machines, controlled like a video game console, bother me greatly. Logically, it makes solid sense, but morality is stripped from the equation, as blaming an malfunctioning machine is an surefire method of escaping responsiblity for the slaughter of human life.

7 April 2005

Aren't the people of Iraq better off?

U.S. Representative Ron Paul speaks the truth about the Iraq War and says the real question should be "Are we better off with a foreign policy that promotes regime change while justifying war with false information?". And the assertion that Iraqis are actually better off is shredded:
How much better off are the Iraqi people? Hundreds of thousands of former inhabitants of Fallujah are not better off with their city flattened and their homes destroyed. Hundreds of thousands are not better off living with foreign soldiers patrolling their street, curfews, and the loss of basic utilities. One hundred thousand dead Iraqis, as estimated by the Lancet medical journal, certainly are not better off. Better to be alive under Saddam Hussein than lying in some cold grave.

Praise for the recent election in Iraq has silenced many critics of the war. Yet the election was held under martial law implemented by a foreign power, mirroring conditions we rightfully condemned as a farce when carried out in the old Soviet system and more recently in Lebanon. Why is it that what is good for the goose isn't always good for the gander?

Our government fails to recognize that legitimate elections are the consequence of freedom, and that an artificial election does not create freedom. In our own history we note that freedom was achieved first and elections followed – not the other way around.

5 April 2005

The Dignity of Work and Workers: The Message of 'Laborem Exercens'

I'll have more to write about Pope John Paul II but thought I'd highlight this 1981 Laborem Exercens Encyclical Letter on the dignity of work. He was as harsh a critic of unbridled capitalism as he was on the depravity and failure of communism.
A systematic opportunity for thinking and evaluating in this way, and in a certain sense a stimulus for doing so, is provided by the quickening process of the development of a onesidedly materialistic civilization, which gives prime importance to the objective dimension of work, while the subjective dimension-everything in direct or indirect relationship with the subject of work-remains on a secondary level. In all cases of this sort, in every social situation of this type, there is a confusion or even a reversal of the order laid down from the beginning by the words of the Book of Genesis: man is treated as an instrument of production, whereas he-he alone, independently of the work he does-ought to be treated as the effective subject of work and its true maker and creator. Precisely this reversal of order, whatever the programme or name under which it occurs, should rightly be called "capitalism"-in the sense more fully explained below. Everybody knows that capitalism has a definite historical meaning as a system, an economic and social system, opposed to "socialism" or "communism". But in the light of the analysis of the fundamental reality of the whole economic process-first and foremost of the production structure that work is-it should be recognized that the error of early capitalism can be repeated wherever man is in a way treated on the same level as the whole complex of the material means of production, as an instrument and not in accordance with the true dignity of his work-that is to say, where he is not treated as subject and maker, and for this very reason as the true purpose of the whole process of production.

The above principle, as it was then stated and as it is still taught by the Church, diverges radically from the programme of collectivism as proclaimed by Marxism and put into pratice in various countries in the decades following the time of Leo XIII's Encyclical. At the same time it differs from the programme of capitalism practised by liberalism and by the political systems inspired by it. In the latter case, the difference consists in the way the right to ownership or property is understood. Christian tradition has never upheld this right as absolute and untouchable. On the contrary, it has always understood this right within the broader context of the right common to all to use the goods of the whole of creation: the right to private property is subordinated to the right to common use, to the fact that goods are meant for everyone.

While the media talking heads drone about how Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War, truth is, Pope John Paul II had a much greater impact in the fall of communism. It was for one of the Pope's books, or when he was known as Karol Wojtyla (though he wrote under cover of pseudonym) that the underground presses in Poland began churning. He spoke to his countrymen and others in neighboring nations in language that they understood, but not in an overt fashion that could land him a prison sentence. He worked on the gnawing of communism from within and truly was Man of the Century.

Flawless he was not, but he was a man of momentous significance.

A country that permits its manufacturing and its technical and scientific professions to wither away is a country on a path to the Third World

Former Reagan administration staffer Paul Craig Roberts takes another monthly view of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) numbers and it's not good news, at least for the American worker, or for our nation's economic future.
In March the US economy created a paltry 111,000 private sector jobs, half the expected amount. Following a well-established pattern, US job growth was concentrated in domestic services: waitresses and bartenders, construction, administrative and waste services, and health care and social assistance.

In the 21st century the US economy has ceased to create jobs in knowledge industries or information technology (IT). It has been a long time since any jobs were created in export and import-competitive sectors.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts no change in the new pattern of US payroll job growth. Outsourcing and offshore production have reduced the need for American engineers, scientists, designers, accountants, stock analysts, and other professional skills.  A college degree is no longer a ticket to upward mobility for Americans.

Nandan Nilekani is CEO of Infosys, an Indian software development firm.  In an interview with New Scientist, he noted that outsourcing is causing American students to "stop studying technical subjects. They are already becoming wary of going into a field which will be ‘Bangalored’ tomorrow."

4 April 2005

Towering contradictions and hypocrisy in the controversy over the tragic plight of Terri Schiavo

John A. Kitzhaber, a physician and former governor of Oregon, points out how Congress involved the federal courts in the life of one individual, while making another decision to deny thousands of other Americans access to healthcare. Some of whom who may die as a result.
To understand this point is to understand the insidious form of implicit rationing practiced by legislative bodies throughout the nation - starting with the Congress. When the Congress cuts Medicaid funding, it is a direct cost shift to the states that administer the program. However, unlike Congress - which has run up a $7 trillion national debt over the past four years - states are required to operate within a balanced budget. So they respond to cuts in Medicaid by dropping people and/or services from coverage.

In 2003, for example, in an effort to balance the budget in the face of falling revenue due to the recession, the Oregon legislature discontinued prescription-drug coverage for certain categories of citizens covered by the state's Medicaid program. This action was apparently based on the assumption - widespread in legislative circles - that if we just stop paying for the healthcare needs of the poor, they'll somehow go away and the public sector can avoid the cost.

As a consequence of this decision, Douglas Schmidt, a man in his mid-30s suffering from a seizure disorder, was no longer able to afford to purchase the medication that controlled his seizures. He subsequently had a grand mal seizure and suffered severe brain damage. He was put on a ventilator in a Portland hospital, where he remained for several months. Eventually he was transferred to a long-term care facility where he died after life support was withdrawn - following a court order to do so.

The cost of his antiseizure medication was $14 a day; the cost of his hospital care was over $7,500 a day - a total medical bill exceeding $1 million. The legislature saved no money through its implicit rationing decision, yet Mr. Schmidt died of political and budgetary expediency based on a policy that said, in effect, we will not pay pennies for medication to manage a seizure disorder, but will pay thousands of dollars to keep an individual on life support after that unmanaged seizure disorder causes severe brain damage.

So, in another words, the act of Congress was one of mere ceremonial nature, and that they care not, in the aggregate, for the lives of Americans who are denied healthcare because they have no way to pay. And all of you who side with Tom DeLay (who applies a different set of standards for his own family), Bill Frist (who oversees a managed care corporate entity that he has defended such hospital made decisions) and George W. Bush (who signed a law in Texas to take these life support decisions away from the family), but yet are not in favor of universal health care envelope yourself in a giant contradiction.

Workers in the United States have been taking a beating for the past thirty years

With the exception of the period from 1995 to 2000, the best compendium and analysis of U.S. labor market statistics tell us that workers have fared poorly in recent times. The affect of unemployment rate, unions, and disparity of income between rich and poor are also examined. Also, the myth that we're entering a period where high skill be necessary for most jobs is debunked:
Nearly 30 million persons labor as teaching assistants, food preparers and servers, counter attendants, cashiers, counter and rental clerks, bookkeepers, customer service reps, stock clerks and order fillers, secretaries, general office clerks, assemblers, sorters, helpers, truck drivers, packers and packagers, and laborers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the ten occupations with the largest job growth between 2000 and 2010 will be food preparation and service workers, customer service representatives, registered nurses, retail salespersons, computer support specialists, cashiers, general office clerks, security guards, computer software engineers, and waiters and waitresses. Of these, nurses and software engineers are the only obviously “good” jobs, and even these are rapidly being rationalized or outsourced by cost-conscious managers.

Oh, the IT worker, that's all a bunch of nonsense

Writer/NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman flaunts his ignorance once again.
Show me a qualified software engineer today anywhere in America who is looking for a job and can't find one. Some of them may have had to move a little horizontally. But show me one person who really has qualifications, is an IT knowledge worker, and just cannot find a job. I don't believe that.

I am a qualified software engineer today, with a college degree in Computer Science, in America who is looking for a job and thus far, unable to secure one. I am fluent in a range of computer languages from the mainframe dinosaur likes of COBOL, CLIST, to the modern dialects of C, Java, Perl, PHP, Python, HTML. Experienced in network communications and relational databases.

And I am not alone, many of my colleagues and peers have been affected by the new model of outsourcing and the importing of non immigrant visa workers. Within a few minutes drive of my house, I tally thousands of jobs lost to outsourcing or supplanted by non immigrant visa workers who have replaced American engineers and programmers. I know this from firsthand experience, because I've had to train my offshore replacements.

I don't believe I am "entitled to a job". I do think that targeting an entire profession for extinction is a grave mistake. Then some foolishly wonder why our youth choose not to pursue careers in computer science or engineering. Duh, it's not a difficult riddle — lowered earnings prospects and career duration variablility due to this phenomenon have most definitely pushed prospective students away.

It is astonishing to read and listen to those who advocate the full scale shredding of an occupation, while not considering that if all fields (and just about all jobs potentially could fit into this new paradigm, even if they can't be moved offshored, a job certainly can be manned by a guest worker immigrant, willing to work for less or agreeable to lesser work conditions due to the non-competitive arrangement they will work under).

3 April 2005

US will cease to exist in the year 2007

So says one Koran scholar, who predicts a giant tsunami will hit the US in 2007.
Silwadi said his study of the Koran showed that the US would perish mainly because of its great sins against mankind, including the Native Americans and blacks.

"As soon as the Europeans started arriving in the new world discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492, they declared a war on the so-called Red Indians, the legitimate owners of the land," he wrote. "Then they began enslaving and humiliating Africans after kidnapping them from their countries and bringing them to America. Millions of blacks were brought to the US and treated with unprecedented harshness. Those who became ill during the journey were thrown overboard to feed the fish."

Silwadi pointed out that the US continued to commit war crimes and "ethnic cleansing" against humanity by becoming the first country to use nuclear weapons during World War II.

"International law penalizes such crimes," he said. "If these laws were not applied then, they are certainly implemented in heaven. If no one on earth is capable of punishing [the US], Allah was and remains able to do so. All these actions have been documented by Allah in a big archive called the Koran."

Sounds about as accurate as the DaVinci code…
» read more

2 April 2005

The administration was not coming fully clean about their involvement with the Saudis

When Michael Moore included information in his Fahrenheit 911 film about preferential treatment in escorting Saudi nationals out of the country while most Americans were banned from traveling by air, he received a barrage of criticism. Turns out, Mr. Moore was imparting the truth.
Now, newly released government records show previously undisclosed flights from Las Vegas and elsewhere and point to a more active role by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in aiding some of the Saudis in their departure.

The F.B.I. gave personal airport escorts to two prominent Saudi families who fled the United States, and several other Saudis were allowed to leave the country without first being interviewed, the documents show.

The Saudi families, in Los Angeles and Orlando, requested the F.B.I. escorts because they said they were concerned for their safety in the wake of the attacks, and the F.B.I. - which was then beginning the biggest criminal investigation in its history - arranged to have agents escort them to their local airports, the documents show.

But F.B.I. officials reacted angrily, both internally and publicly, to the suggestion that any Saudis had received preferential treatment in leaving the country.

The preponderance of evidence suggests that the warming of the past 50 years has mostly come from greenhouse gas emissions

Temperatures in the Arctic and Antarctic are rising much faster than the rest of the world, which is going to result in a steep rise in sea level.
If anything, the news from the Arctic is even more troubling. In November an international team of 300 scientists completed an unprecedented four-year study of the region that found it is warming at nearly twice the rate of the rest of the planet. Average winter temperatures in much of the region have increased by as much as four to seven degrees Fahrenheit in the past 50 years, and they are expected to warm by another seven to 13 degrees by the end of the century. During that time, the scientists predict that half of the Arctic’s summer sea ice will melt, along with much of the Greenland Ice Sheet, which contains enough ice to raise sea level by some 23 feet.