Earth News Journal 6: Rising Sea Levels

Rising sea levels are inevitable, according to the September 2013 National Geographic magazine.

Because of abundant fossil fuel emissions already present in the atmosphere, due to many years of non-renewable energy exhaustion, we’ve “locked in” to several additional feet of sea water, as the planet accommodates to the amount of carbon dioxide accumulating in the ozone.

The pressing matter is how much and how soon can we expect this increase to affect the human population.

Global warming has contributed to the sea level crisis in two ways. One – water expands as it warms, and the global temperature has climbed more than a full Fahrenheit degree within the past century. As the majority of the Earth is covered in a layer of water, mostly salt water oceans, this expansion is quite widespread but difficult to measure on a global scale.

Second – ice is melting, due to the warming of the global climate. Experts are concerned about the large ice sheets found in Greenland and Antarctica and the consequences of these huge ice blocks dissolving into more liquid water.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration conducted a report of four possible sea-level scenarios come the year 2100. The highest possible predication is a 6.6 foot increase. The US Army Corps of Engineers believes an increase of 5 feet of sea levels is a realistic scenario, as well.

The rise of sea levels is a serious threat to the approximately 150 million people who currently live on coastal cities or stretches of available coastland. Natural flooding disasters, like New York City’s devastating Hurricane Sandy a mere 11 months ago, represent the potential future in this creeping, ever-advancing issue, according to climate and weather researchers.

If all the polar ice caps were to melt, and Greenland to give way, prime American cities, such as Miami, New Orleans, and New York City, would be completely submerged, as would the entire states of Florida, Louisiana, and a sizable portion of the Eastern coast states.

The United States wouldn’t be the only country to suffer great assets and available land resources, as well. Countries like China and continents like South America would suffer tremendous losses of land to the swell of sea water. The entire planet is caught in an ever-dripping hourglass of H20 – we can either choose to sink or swim.

Reflection

This article about the inevitable reality of rising sea levels is quite shocking, but I may be one of the only Americans to think so, or to give much thought to the situation at all. Most Americans are content to just consume the goods they desire in the moment and heed no mind to the future and its consequences. By firmly rooting themselves in the present, they ignorantly refuse to accept responsibility for not recycling, wasting resources, and burning an incredible amount of unnecessary fossil fuels. Eventually, they had to have known this exponential use of resources couldn’t last, right? I believe in taking actions right now to stop the dependence of fossil fuels. We already know that the oceans will rise because of excessive carbon dioxide present in the ozone in this age, so we should actively prevent the increase of sea levels by transitioning to renewable energy. Let’s stop digging ourselves into a sinkhole, and start rebuilding the walls of civilization to help our warming world.  

Folger, Tim. “Rising Seas.” National Geographic Sept. 2013: n. pag. Print.

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