The Inertia Editorial Intern

For some, the fear is constant. For others, it’s simply easier not to think about it until it’s happening. The fact is, climate change is a real problem, and it has real consequences. It affects not only sea life, but us on land, as well.

Research from Climate Central has projected a four-foot rise of the global sea level within the next two-or-so centuries, as well as a 10 foot rise in the end. Should a 10-foot rise of the global sea level occur, 28,800 square miles of land would be lost, and 12.3 million people would lose the land they currently call home.

If the notion that this projected 10-foot rise is centuries away calms you, it shouldn’t. There is a greater than 16.67% chance that by the year 2020, a combination of sea level rise, storm surges and tides will cause the sea level in Los Angeles, California to rise an entire foot. While that number may appear manageable, that small rise would affect 528 acres, 1,738 homes and 2,907 people in the area. If this study proves correct, in less than six years, 528 acres of Los Angeles may be underwater.

Looking further into the future, should there in fact be a 10-foot rise in sea levels in Los Angeles by the turn of this century, 4,727 acres and 14,764 homes would be underwater. This rise would leave 26,569 people with nothing but water where their homes once stood.

New York City, New Orleans and Miami are the top three cities with the greatest population that will be affected by a 10-foot rise in sea level. A combined 1,320,000 people in these three cities alone, would eventually lose their land to the sea. Florida is the most vulnerable to rising sea level. Each of its threatened counties sits on hole-riddled bedrock, leaving each county essentially defenseless, even with levees or seawalls. Florida’s threatened counties account for $950 billion worth of property.

New York

New York’s new coastline. 10 feet looks like a lot more than ten feet. Photo: Climate

And outside the U.S., things look even more grim. Shanghai, China, the world’s most populated municipal area – around 24 million people live there – is just over 12-feet above sea level. If, in the next few centuries, the anticipated 10-foot rise occurs, that doesn’t leave land left.

It’s not too late to do your part to fight the battle of climate change. There are many ways we can all protect our climate, reduce air pollution and even save some money. At home, use Energy Star qualified light bulbs to save on energy bills and while helping the environment. Use your water efficiently and recycle when you can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Carpool with friends or co-workers, bike or use public transportation whenever possible. Your personal greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by an average of two tons per year if you can leave your car at home for just two days each week. Imagine the dent we could make if everyone lived just a little differently.

Of course, the predicted change in sea-levels will take a long time to occur. This isn’t an immediate threat. But the research on the most rapidly decaying ice sheet and a look back at our own historical ignorance points to a future that we need to be mindful of.

Climate change is real, and it’s happening right in front of us. Spread the word and do your part to protect our climate before the looming consequences can no longer be stopped.


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