National Geographic has a disturbing, yet interactive map, which illustrates what 216 feet of sea level rise will do to all the coastlines today. According to what they say, the maps show the world as it is now, with just one difference:
All the ice on land has melted and drained into the sea, raising it 216 feet and creating new shorelines for our continents and inland seas.
There are more than five million cubic miles of ice on Earth, and some scientists say it would take more than 5,000 years to melt it all. If we continue adding carbon to the atmosphere, we will very likely create an ice-free planet, with an average temperature of perhaps 80 degrees Fahrenheit instead of the current 58.
Yes, it cannot be that all the ice will melt and we will have to go through devastating effects of sea level rise. However, even with the current sea level rise caused by melting ice and thermal expansion, we are experiencing destruction from higher water.
At present, villages in Alaska are concerned about the ice melting which is threatening to erode their villages. In Pacific, low-lying islands are facing basic existential questions like what happens if a country is underwater, is it still a nation or state?
With Arctic temperatures rising up to being the highest in 44,000 years, ice cover has hit record lows and scientists report that sea level is rising 60% faster than expected. Six feet of sea level rise will supposedly ruin South Florida and experts warn that we have already melted almost 70 feet of ice hence amounting to sea level rise.
This does not mean it is too late to act. Illustrations like these serve as a reality check. It makes us remember that unless we start to act immediately to stop greenhouse gas emissions, we are going to face some gruelling times ahead.
Head here to go to National Geographic’s interactive map.