Sandi wrote:perhaps it is the natural course of things because the land is downhill
Actually, in the case of WAIS the ice is generally flowing uphill not downhill. The mass of the ice sheet has depressed the land in West Antarctica far below sea level.
Ice in a glacier or ice sheet does not necessarily flow downhill. It flows down a pressure gradient. For a small alpine glacier this will mostly be "downhill". For a large ice sheet like WAIS, the pressure gradient is outward not downhill.
Sandi wrote: and because there are no topographic obstacles to prevent it from flowing into the ocean it is irreversible. The ‘irreversible’ part of the scare line is a good chuckle. How do you ‘reverse’ the progress of a glacier?
You don't understand the difference between the ice and the glacier.
The ice always flows in one direction, and doesn't reverse. But the terminus of the glacier can advance, retreat, or be stable, depending on the glacier's mass balance.
A glacier or ice sheet gains mass in its zone of accumulation and loses mass in its zone of ablation. If WAIS gains mass faster in its accumulation zone than it loses mass in its ablation zone, then its outlet glaciers will advance. Contrariwise, if accumulation can't keep up with ablation, then its outlet glaciers will retreat.
So, to answer your question, Sandi, you "reverse the progress of a glacier" by changing the climate such that it shifts towards a negative mass balance. Ablation outpaces accumulation, the glacier's equilibrium line and terminus retreat, and if this keeps up long enough the glacier disappears.
The situation with WAIS is that (relatively) warmer ocean water eats away at its outlet glaciers, causing their grounding lines to retreat. Because WAIS is sitting in a bowl below sea level, as the grounding lines retreat, ocean water will flow inward and downward, continuing to ablate mass from the fronts of the glaciers. As the outlet glaciers retreat inward they also steepen, which leads to more instability.
And yes, scientists have been talking about this possibility for a long time. So?