Rising waters July 6, 2007Posted by Andreas in Climate change, Environment, Global warming, News, Sustainable Living.
I came across a paper by James Hansen (NASA’s chief climate scientists) and others yesterday that makes for some very scary reading.
With typical scientific understatement, the paper is entitled “Climate change and trace gases” and it’s published in the very prestigious (and obviously peer-reviewed) Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (I found it through a George Monbiot column and you can download the pdf here).
The jist of the paper is that Hansen et al predict that global warming may lead to a much more rapid and severe rise in global sea level than previously expected.
Under “business as usual” scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions (i.e. if we carry on burning fossil fuels at the rate we are today) the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts sea level to rise by as much as 59 cm this century.
Hansen et al, however, believe that these models do not take proper account of palaeoclimate evidence or of the way ice sheets (particularly those in West Antarctica and Greenland) melt and disintegrate (i.e. in a non-linear rather than gradual fashion).
They warn that carrying on with business as usual could “produce a situation out of humanity’s control” resulting in devastating sea level rise this century, possibly exceeding the situation in “the middle Pliocene, when the planet was not more than 2-3oC warmer and sea level 25+/-10m higher.”
Now 25 metres is a lot. To put it into some context, the Cape Peninsula would be turned into two islands (split at Sun Valley), much of the Cape Flats would be under water and worldwide large portions of many other coastal cities (New Orleans, Lagos, Cairo, Amsterdam, etc.) would be flooded.
Drastic measures are needed now!