By: Amanda Froelich,
While debate rages on regarding the validity of the global warming theory, environmental changes continue to reshape the lives and homes of many. Currently, the rising level of sea water has caused melting ice and thermal expansion to negatively affect many species and cultures. Alaskan villages are concerned about what to do if the melting ice caps erode their villages from underneath their feet, and in the Pacific, low-lying islands face existential questions such as, “If a country is underwater, is it still a nation or a state?”
It cannot be argued that arctic water temperatures are at their highest in 44,000 years. According to studies, ice covers have hit record lows and sea levels have risen 60% faster than anticipated. Whether these changes are a result from the Earth’s natural cycles or from human-caused global warming, one thing is for sure: this type of climate change will dramatically change the Earth if not curbed.
Just six feet of sea level rise would be enough to ruin South Florida, and experts warn that the world has already “baked in” 70 feet of sea level rise. To give a visual representation of such change, National Geographic has created an interactive map displaying what 216 feet of sea level rise will do to coastlines around the world.
“The ice maps here show the world as it is now, with only one difference: All the 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’ll very likely create an ice-free planet, with an average temperature of perhaps 80 degrees Fahrenheit instead of the current 58.”
This data is not meant to frighten the individual, but provide awareness of what may become reality if sustainable ways of living are not adopted in haste.
Illustrations such as these can serve as a useful reality check that unless the world acts now to stop greenhouse gas emissions, the effects of a warmer Earth will become more pronounced as time goes on.