This will be a little follow-up to the previous blog. We hope you were able to gain a better perspective on the inner workings of a typical Denialist site. But, if it also sparked your curiosity for a better understanding of sea level rise, then look no further. Firstly, it is important to understand that even a small change in sea levels contributes to significant damage. It is also crucial to note that sea level rise is one of, if not, the most important and detrimental effect of climate change. Which is why you’ll find multiple Denialists working extra hard to soften or rebut the evidence that proves its impending severity.
Global rising temperatures are heavily impacting on the Arctic. Increased amount of warm days has seen a record low sea ice extent, as reported by Grist. Not only that but, sea ice has been in sharp decline for the past seven months. If you need a sensory experience of this, then watch this 10-second video that depicts the Arctic sea ice melting in 2016. Basic science will tell you that the effect of warm water temperatures is an expansion of the ocean and melting ice means more water in our oceans, which essentially means tons and tons of more water making up the earth. Not only are such findings critical for the polar bears or coastal regions due to heightened threats of flooding and coastal erosion. But, rising sea levels also impact on the economy, clean water, agriculture, and wildlife populations.
In 2014, The Conversation reported sea levels in Darwin, Australia had risen by 17 centimeters over the past 20 years. The below illustrates the reality for the people of Darwin at the time. And if you’re thinking 17 centimeters in 20 years isn’t that drastic, well it is because “raising the underlying base makes a big difference, not just to the ultimate penetration of big tides and storm surges, but also in the everyday hydrodynamic fluxes on beaches, estuaries, and floodplains.”
Also, it was only a year ago when Florida endured heavy floods due to high tides, which leaves it to be the most vulnerable to rising sea levels because of its low elevation. Flooding is, therefore, more likely to occur at a frequent rate. The graph below from the University of Miami indicates the significant increases of high tides leading to flooding events. For more information, check out the study conducted by the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science.
With all this, denialists such as Trump will continue to say foolish things like “I’m not a big believer in man-made climate change”. He also has plans to retract the US from the Paris Climate Agreement, which is in place to reduce carbon emissions that cause global warming. This is essentially a big step in the wrong direction. We need leaders that not only understand and trust the science, but that are in constant communication with climate scientists and giving them a platform to better voice the issues and solutions to climate change.
One main point to take away is that the changes occurring now are irreversible. We are simply past the stage of undoing human impact. However, we can redeem ourselves by working with the planet. Adapting to the current changes in sea level rise will enable the greater potential for both future generations and the earth to thrive.
Campbell, A & Garnett, S 2014, ‘A wet warning from Australia’s top end on rising sea levels’, The Conversation.