Hello my fellow land-dwellers
Do you happen to live in any of these places?
Sydney, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Miami, New York City, San Francisco…pretty much all of Bangladesh and the Maldives?
Well, congratulations! You just won first-class seats to rising sea levels!
Watch the documentary, “Before the Flood” if you want the bejeezus scared out of you regarding the threats we face from climate change – including, rising sea levels.
If you don’t believe National Geographic however, or the beautifully talented Leonardo di Caprio, listen to the thousands of scientists who have pointed out this phenomenon, recorded it and tried desperately to convince people that this is reality.
Sea levels have been rising for over 100 years – not evenly, though. Several processes are at work, says Mahé Perrette of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. Some land is sinking, some is rising. Stronger currents create slopes in sea surface, and since all things with mass exert a gravitation pull, disappearing ice sheets lead to a fall in sea levels in their surrounding areas.
Perrette has modeled all of these effects and calculated local sea level rises in 2100 for the entire planet. While the global average rise is predicted to be between 30 and 106 centimeters, he says tropical seas will rise 10 or 20 per cent more, while polar seas will see a below-average rise. Coasts around the Indian Ocean will be hard hit, as will Japan, south-east Australia and Argentina.
Do you guys remember Hurricane Katrina or the 2004 Tsunami? Multiply those events by, well, a thousand to understand what we’re in for in the future. Rising sea levels will affect every coastline, and impact every human being. Why is this happening you ask?
Take a second. . .
You guessed it! Global Warming, Climate Change, human pollution, melting ice, divine intervention etc. whatever you want to refer to it as. Simply put, this has happened before (as you probably learned in grade school when discussing the Ice Age, etc.) but it’s happening really freaking fast today in terms of sea level rise.
Disclaimer: beware that a 24 hour immediate shift in climate, triggering a sudden Ice Age akin to what happened in the Day After Tomorrow, is not very likely. Let’s keep the science real for the disbelievers out there. And there are plenty of them.
The figure above is taken from a Business Insider article discussing why Americans do not believe in climate change. Okay, 33% said weather, relative to them, has not changed. Um, so if I don’t see it, or experience it then it must not exist. Yeah, no. That’s the weakest argument out there. Just because you’re not experiencing it or you can’t “see” it doesn’t mean it’s just conspiracy propaganda. (Although that sounds like an argument for Santa Claus. . .) Please, just watch the documentary about the Maldives, The Island President, to understand that the earth does not revolve around you. Your personal weather bubble is actually not a bubble at all.
Also, some claimed there is a lack of evidence or conflicting scientific evidence. About 97% of scientists agree that this phenomenon exists. And yes, there are different opinions as to why it’s happening, the rate of change, etc. but 97% do not question that it is happening and there are major, negative effects that will occur. It’s like certain historical events, many historians may disagree about a particular event’s context but all would acknowledge that the event pretty much happened. One way or another.
Climate change is real. Oh so very real. In particular, sea level rise due to climate change will most likely be the first effect felt most readily by the global populous, including you.
The US military is pretty concerned, maybe they can convince you. As Forbes put it:
The Center for Naval Analysis has had its Military Advisory Board examining the national security implications of climate change for many years. Lead by Army General Paul Kern, the Military Advisory Board is a group of 16 retired flag-level officers from all branches of the Service. This is not a group normally considered to be liberal activists and fear-mongers. This year (2014), the Military Advisory Board came out with a new report, called National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change, that is a serious discussion about what the military sees as the threats and the actions to be taken to mitigate them.
“The potential security ramifications of global climate change should be serving as catalysts for cooperation and change. Instead, climate change impacts are already accelerating instability in vulnerable areas of the world and are serving as catalysts for conflict.”
So, what will some of the effects of rising sea levels be?
1) Environmental or climate change migration – with millions of people at risk due to living at sea level or relying on ports, etc., they will start (or have already started) migrating once their livelihoods are threatened or disrupted. The questions are, where will they go and what socio-economic impacts will this have?
2) Food insecurity – once salt water rises and infiltrates fresh water, agricultural centers, rice crops, etc. food production will undoubtedly suffer. Food supplies will diminish as certain agricultural products will not be able to grow where they have historically.
3) Economically, millions of dollars worth of damage to infrastructure will occur, including whole cities that may find themselves flooding more and more each year. Heck, look at poor Venice.
4) Increase in natural disasters in populated areas and subsequent potential health risks – water borne diseases feed off stagnant water and flooding sewage systems. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that flood waters and standing waters poses risks such as “infectious diseases, chemical hazards and injuries.”
5) Major economic investment is needed to build levees, dams, etc. in order to protect cities from rising seas. This will put immense pressure on poorer economies to keep up, and many will undoubtedly struggle to do so without international help. Better get your degree in engineering today for the future demand in this industry!
If you’re still confused about the relation between climate change and sea level rise please check this Tedx Talk out by Oceanographer, John Englander. He ironically puts a positive spin on this phenomenon and discusses how we can potentially slow it down, while also recognizing that hey, it’s happening. Let’s do something about it. Thankfully, only a few days ago the monumental Paris Agreement on Climate Change went into effect – but in just a few more days the United States may elect a president that has said climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese. So, there’s that…
Well, like they always say, the first step towards solving a problem is admitting the problem exists in the first place!
You know what though? What does it matter, I won’t be alive in 100 years…so YOLO.
I’ll be back….going to go pollute the earth some more, because I CAN.
For my great-great grandchildren, don’t worry, I’ll leave you some life-jackets and a boat. Don’t say I didn’t do anything for you.
Your great-great grandma,
Ps. If you need any pointers on how to survive, Star Wars has some great architecture ideas for cities either on or under the water. Kamino is by far the coolest.