History isn’t on our side when it comes to climate change or sea-level rise, a new study found. Research conducted by a group of climate scientists from multiple U.S. universities found that the level of sea-level rise seen due to climate change in recent years is mild compared to what we could be experiencing in the coming years. The study indicated that historically speaking, this massive change or shift in the climate, which would leave oceans rising as much as 20 or 30 feet in a matter of just a couple decades – is anything but a dooms day scenario.
While it might seem like the stuff of fiction, the study found that there is legitimate historical context to this theory. The theory suggests that in a period of slow climate change – sea-level rise was as much as 25 feet. However, the study found that the acceleration rate of the sea-level rise was something that happened in a relatively short period of time. That is something that could seriously challenge waterways and could completely change the layout of coastlines around the world.
The research team believes that the water will come from the melting of ice at both of the poles, and while it will have significant impact on wildlife in the north and south – the biggest impacts now will likely be people who live in massive metropolitan spaces along the coastline of the U.S. Specifically, key East and West Coast cities, which thrive on water – and are home to millions and millions of people.
Anders Carlson, a co-author on the study pointed out that, “Studies have shown that both the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets contributed significantly to this sea level rise above modern levels.” He went on to point out that, “Modern atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are today equivalent to those about three million years ago, when sea level was at least six meters higher because the ice sheets were greatly reduced.”
Another co-author of the study pointed out that this is a sign that we’re entering “uncharted territory,” and a space that no climate scientist wants to enter. The problem with going here by this route is that we’re taking out the ability for humans to prepare or stop what is happening – and are essentially putting ourselves at risk in the long-term for short-term outlooks.
Scientists hope though that this information, or this study, can help spur real change. The type of change that is needed at this point is the kind that doesn’t look at things 20 or 30 years from now, and say, “We’ll start doing this by then.” But rather, focuses on the problems and addresses them without any hesitation today. If we cope with these things today, there is still a chance that we can turn them around and correct them. If not though, it would appear as though we’re starting a chain reaction that we might not be able to undo.