Sea level rise is a horrible outcome of human-driven warming. But not in the way you may be thinking of it. It’s not so much a crashing apocalypse as it is a chronic problem, more like a slow cancer than a sudden heart attack. We still need to do all we can in order to prevent as much of it as possible, but we also need to realize that it’s going to take a long time. This is not to remove all concern about the issue, but rather to help us recognize that the slow pace of these changes can mask their seriousness. And it also means that this is going to bother us and our descendants for a very long time—probably for thousands of years.
As evidence of the latter, NASA has created a remarkable infographic that shows just how alarmingly fast Greenland is melting away. That chart shows, quite elegantly, the length of the melting season at various points along Greenland’s ice cap.
For most of the year, Greenland is totally frozen. But during summer months, some melting does occur. Because of rising temperatures, that melting season is starting earlier and lasting longer than ever before—in fact, in the places colored deep red on that map above, the melting season has lasted 60 days longer than the average of the last 30 years. That’s a whole hell of a lot of melting.
NASA gathered the data from meteorological satellites that measure tiny amounts of microwaves being emitted by ice and water. Since the signatures of each are slightly different, scientists can tell exactly when the ice cap is melting and when it is frozen.
Miami, New York City, and Washington D.C. are among 180 coastal cities that are all at risk of facing sea level rises of 20 feet by the year 2100, causing floods and erosion and impacting over 40 million people, according to the first large-scale study that looked at sea level rises for the entire continental United States. Miami and New Orleans alone could lose over 10% of their land by 2100.
The University of Arizona research points to global warming trends and effects in the United States that impact coastal areas inhabited by 50,000 or more people and not just those who live on or near the beach. The researchers point out that damage from sea-level rises also infiltrates through creeks, channels, adjacent low-lying areas, and inlets, which means that beach-bums are not the only ones who should be concerned.
Jeez, good thing global warming is a myth. (THAT’S A JOKE, IT’S NOT A MYTH.)