The future is dark, and the future is wet, says a new paper from the journal Science. Although it forecasts a thirty-five year wait for really heavy climate change, the paper claims that in this time, the sea levels can be expected to rise by at least 20 feet. To make matters bleaker, this is a best-case scenario forecast, i.e. the twenty feet is an optimistic minimum assuming we manage can manage, as a global society, to hold the global temperature at 2 degrees Celsius higher. Many, however, believe we’re too far gone to even stop the temperature there.
SLIPPERY SLOPE IS not a fallacy IN the field of CLIMATE CHANGE
The thing is that when the Earth’s polar ice sheets begin to melt, the path to global climate change is a slippery slope. In Earth’s distant history, whenever temperatures were one to three degrees above preindustrial norms, the sea levels surged upwards.
“As the planet warms, the poles warm even faster, raising important questions about how ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica will respond,” said Andrea Dutton, a geochemist at the University of Florida, and the study’s lead author. She continues, “While this amount of sea-level rise will not happen overnight, it is sobering to realize how sensitive the polar ice sheets are to temperatures that we are on path to reach within decades.”
In short, climate change will cause rising water levels worldwide that are going to make the outline of continents unfamiliar; coastlines will be strangers again. In what one might imagine as a hysteria arcade, Climate Central generated an interactive map which shows precisely what these added twenty feet of sea will mean for America.
WET GEAR EMPATHY
It’s kind of strange looking at these photos and trying to imagine a future New York City in the year 2100, or even hundreds of years afterward. Whether nobly cleaning up our mess or ignobly hateful of our wasteful prelude, the constant of real estate remains universal. The U.S. will lose 48,000 square miles of land, which is presently home to 5 percent of our population.
This depressive interactive map doesn’t just limn the U.S.’s sad, drowning future. Globally, 375 million people are presently in danger of being flooded out of a home.
MOMENTO, THIS IS OPTIMISM
Keep in mind that the 20-feet below scenario is an optimistic estimate for climate change, assuming we are able to keep the global temp below the aforementioned upper limit. Also, according to the study, throughout similarly warm periods in Earth’s distant past, the water has risen up to 42 feet above current levels.
However, what’s clear is that without serious, drastic action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that the sea could rise an additional 38 inches higher than the 8 inches we have already suffered, during the rest of the century.