Imagine major metropolitan cities like New York City, Miami, London or New Orleans — but underwater. Most people don’t truly understand how serious sea levels rising are, but once major cities are put at risk people begin to worry. There are many outstanding questions about the rise of sea levels, enough that scientists can’t even answer them all. As a millennial student, I fear for the safety of our planet once the baby boomer generation passes on. Considering how much sea levels are rising and how much of an impact it could have, many questions about our future start to arise.
Where Is The Water Coming From?
It’s normal for glaciers and ice caps to melt a little bit in the summer, however, in the recent years, ice has been melting at a significantly faster pace. Due to global warming and severe climate change, massive glaciers and polar ice caps in freezing climates are melting and expanding due to the extreme heat, causing the global sea levels to rise. Climate change also results in irregular seasonal periods, making it warmer longer than it is usually cold, causing the ice caps to melt. These major melting glaciers and ice caps originate primarily from Greenland and Antarctica, but will flow downward and around the planet’s waterways.
How Much Are Sea Levels Really Changing?
According to a National Geographic article, over the past one hundred years the Global Mean Sea Level has risen by 10 to 20 centimeters. The annual rate of rise over the past 20 years has been 3.2 millimeters a year, twice the average speed of the past 80 years. Although the numbers do not seem impressively large, every inch has an impact.
Scientists believe that the planet will continue to heat up and experience more climate change resulting in the blocks of ice to melt rapidly. The warmer the planet gets, the more ice will melt resulting in sea levels reaching modern-day record heights. The entire process of sea levels rising seems to me to be a cause and effect pattern. The more heat we produce, the higher the sea levels will reach. The longer we put off combating this increase in sea levels, the worse it will one day be.
Where Will The Excess Water Go?
Because rising sea levels don’t affect most of us on a daily basis, it’s difficult to fathom it’s danger. Depending on where we live in the world, we may want to begin to reduce our carbon footprint to differing degrees.
Flatlands or coastal environments are at the highest risk of destruction due to rising sea levels. In National Geographic’s special program, Earth Under Water: Worldwide Flooding, it explained how major cities like New Orleans, Miami, London and New York City would experience climate change the worst. Cities that are low, flat and located on the coastlines of major bodies of water are at the most risk. An example for Canadians would be cities around the Great Lakes, like Windsor. Global warming will impact the Great Lakes, however, should not rise excessively to put nearby citizens in immense danger.
New York City is one of the world’s most at-risk cities for rising sea levels. (Image Source: Rolling Stone)
While global warming may not have an effect on sea levels in the Great Lakes, the ocean life will undoubtedly change.The warmer temperature of the water and the levels of the water going up and down disturb the inhabitants of the bodies of water. This also applies for the vast majority of oceans, rivers and lakes. The changing temperature will harm the world’s ecosystems, possibly disrupting food chains.
How Can We Lessen The Projected Impact?
Although we can do small things to prevent sea levels from rising, the damage has already been done. Although we cannot put a stop to the rise of sea levels, we can certainly prevent the pace that it rises from increasing. Major cities and governments have the responsibility placed on their shoulders to do all they can to reduce the amount of carbon emissions. An example of what they could do is to put a tax on carbon, which would likely reduce the use of it.
The Time Frame
The year 2100 is a popular reference goal for both documentaries and scientists alike. A study done by the National Center for Atmospheric Research showed that if the global community significantly cuts down the amount of emissions being emitted, it is possible to reduce sea level rise by 6-20 inches! Unfortunately, this is a severe problem that future generations will face, but as a whole global community we should do all in our power to fix what we can.