A new study predicts:
“We are looking at a three-metre rise in 50 years,” Banchon said. “This is the first evidence that we have for rapid change in sea level during that time.” Only collapsing ice sheets could account for such an abrupt increase, he added.
But more recent studies have sounded alarms about the potential impact of crumbling ice sheets in western Antarctica and Greenland, which together contain enough frozen water to boost average global sea levels by at least 13 metres (42 feet).
A rapid three-meter rise would devastate dozens of major cities around the globe, including Shanghai, Calcutta, New Orleans, Miami and Dhaka. “Scientists have tended to assume that sea level reached a maximum during the last interglacial” — some 120,000 years ago — “very slowly, over several millennia,” Blanchon told AFP by phone.
“What we are saying is ‘no, they didn’t’.”
They now think that the ocean level rise happened very, very rapidly. If so, this has stupendous impact upon a vast majority of the world’s population — many which lives on the coastlines.
The New York Times published over the weekend, “Is This The End?“, a fatalistic op-ed about what lies ahead, showing a drowned Statue of Liberty.
I’d found this story over on Climate Progress, a site which I take the time to read daily as it covers much of the important news in regards to climate action and development.
However, I really disagree with the “optimism” Romm expressed because it implies far too much as far as “what can be done” on a meaningful time-scale. My thoughts on this are:
Stopping rising sea levels by “cutting pollution” sounds nice — but it is not actually humanly possible on a realistic timescale, which is what we really needing to discuss.
Let’s use a human lifetime of say, 70 years for our basis of “realistic timescale”.
The oceans will continue to rise through thermal expansion and ongoing ice melt for a long, long time to come (hundreds if not thousands of years to come). Science is quite sure of this prediction, because of multiple factors — inertia, feedback mechanisms, continued CO₂ loading, ice loss, ocean saturation, albedo effects, measured (and increasing) methane release and the known lag times of climate response to all of these things.
Therefore, cutting pollution, although an excellent and very overdue idea, which admittedly should still be done irregardless, will simply not work on a realistic timescale. Not even in two human lifetimes would this resolve the issue.
Defense and retreat then, are the ONLY realistic options on meaningful timescales. This should be perfectly clear now to all scientists (and city planners).
Cutting pollution will ONLY prevent worse effects far into the future. It’s simply too late now to expect this to help the current generation much.
The “fatalism” is actually far more accurate then the optimism. We indeed “must do both”, but we’re simply not going to stop what has taken a long time to initiate easily.
We’ve far more people / industry and pollutive contributions now then when we began to load the atmosphere with pollutants. We already know how incredibly difficult it already is to gain any kind of consensus or participation among nations or even people (especially leaders). The optimism I oft see expressed that we’re suddenly going to resolve this “in time” is simply incredibly naive — that is clearly not going to happen.
Many other commentators have posted essentially the same thing. If we are right, then the assessments that I’ve have been making on this blog for years now will prove to be on target. The important thing to remember here however is new data is coming in all the time and it continues to present a worse and worse future probability. I’ve yet to read a single article that “improves” our situation or buys us more time.
Yet this does not stop the idiotic climate denialists who categorically insist that we simply ignore the problem (or stupidly blame it on our Sky God). An example of this non-participation / denialism is possibly best expressed by Senator Inhofe of Oklahoma:
The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous. – Senator Inhofe
The Senator needs to extract his head from his well-Oiled ass and smell the sulfur:
Senator Inhofe is now Minority leader of the Senate Armed Forces Committee with more power and responsibility. He’ll be at direct odds with the entire US military which is deeply concerned about climate change. He probably represent the best reason why inaction for America is the chosen path ahead (so far).
He’s taken every opportunity to spout off about how climate change is one of the “biggest hoaxes ever played” on the American people (and even published a book about it); how NASA scientist James Hansen is not a real scientist and is not to be believed (but that his own cherry-picked but poorly credentialed scientists are); and how anthropogenic global warming is impossible anyway since, well, “God is still up there” and it’s “outrageous” and arrogant to believe human beings are “able to change what He is doing in the climate.” Check, check, and, uh, check.
It’s not hard to envision where at some point in the near future, a global emergency response will be desperately enacted, virtually nationalizing everything with the mobilization of all available resources (think the scenes in Deep Impact for example) to belatedly try to stave off large-scale disaster and loss of human life. Yet such a response will be pathetically ineffective and far, far too late. We’re saddled by alleged “doubt” and inaction — which is creating ridiculous amounts of inaccuracy, tension, political pandering and absolutely guaranteeing a “too late” response.