The most recent IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report(s) (2013 / 2014 IPCC AR5) — the primary basis for policy makers, politicians, governments and business leaders in the development of corporate strategies, all international climate negotiations and, now, toward a supposed new deal / agreement in 2015 — doubled its previous (AR4, 2007) estimate of probable sea level rise by 2100 to about 3 feet. Below are some quotes, followed by explanations why this is a dramatic underestimate.
“As the ocean warms, and glaciers and ice sheets reduce, global mean sea level will continue to rise, but at a faster rate than we have experienced over the past 40 years,” said Co-Chair Qin Dahe.” (Press Release, page 1)
“It is very likely that the mean rate of global averaged sea level rise was 1.7 [1.5 to 1.9] mm yr between 1901 and 2010, 2.0 [1.7 to 2.3] mm yr between 1971 and 2010 and 3.2 [2.8 to 3.6] mm yr between 1993 and 2010. Tide-gauge and satellite altimeter data are consistent regarding the higher rate of the latter period. It is likely that similarly high rates occurred between 1920 and 1950.” (SPM, page 9)
“it is very likely that there is a substantial anthropogenic contribution to the global mean sea level rise since the 1970s. This is based on the high confidence in an anthropogenic influence on the two largest contributions to sea level rise, that is thermal expansion and glacier mass loss.” (SPM, page 17)
“Projections of sea level rise are larger than in the AR4, primarily because of improved modelling of land-ice contributions.” (SPM, page 18)
Doubled estimate? Yes, their previous assessment was THAT off base! But with numerous experts who fear that global average sea level could rise CATASTROPHIC METRES by 2100, and based on studies of the last geological era that saw atmospheric concentrations as high as they are RIGHT NOW and suggest we may have already assured TENS OF METRES of long-term rise, the IPCC is still WAY ‘under’ (at least 1-2 metres this century, as much as 27 metres long-term). For more about problems with and limitations of the IPCC, see: Compilation – IPCC reports, the 2°C danger threshold / carbon budget CON JOB.
And like ocean acidification, sea level rise is another one of those epic threats to most life that no individual or combination of Hail Mary geoengineering methods could prevent.
Just last year the lead author of paleoclimate research funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) said, “The natural state of the Earth with present carbon dioxide levels is one with sea levels about 70 feet higher than now.” And that was only slightly less worrisome than a 2009 paper in Science that found when CO2 levels were this high 15 million years ago, it was 5° to 10°F warmer and seas were 75 to 120 feet higher. – Post, Joe Romm, CP
“…at today’s level of carbon dioxide, and not much above the current temperature, the world has experienced sea-levels 5 to 25 metres higher than at present! … It is hard to argue that anything above the Holocene maximum (of around +0.5ºC above the pre-industrial temperature) can preserve a safe climate, and that we have not already gone too far. The notion that +1.5ºC is a safe target is out the window, and even +1ºC looks like an unacceptably high risk.” ~ Re-thinking a “safe climate”: Have we already gone too far? David Spratt, Climate Code Red, interprets Hansen research, Jan. 23, 2011
Given the DIRE EMERGENCY of the climate (energy / population / democracy / justice) crisis and the severe impacts already observed / suffered by the most vulnerable / least culpable peoples and species, a rapid return to a less than +0.85-degree Celsius (our current, already out of energy balance) world is what is required to attempt to restore the more stable climate that enabled humanity to evolve / civilization to develop.
If this umbrella peril is not tackled fast, its impacts — already severe compromises to fresh water availability, food / agriculture production / supply and multi-regional insecurity / instability — will make it impossible for us to address ALL other global issues and causes, let alone to thrive or survive.
And if the governments of the world continue to allow themselves to be guided and limited as they always have by the cautious, conservative, flawed, lowest common denominator and, in large part, outdated by the time of publication IPCC conclusions; if they refuse to leap beyond the delusional / suicidal frame of the supposed, long-pervasive, incorrect, political, arbitrarily chosen, profit and delay-motivated +2°C (+3.6°F) ‘danger threshold’ (far too high) / nonsensical ‘carbon budget‘ mentality…
global catastrophe / the horrible demise of most life will soon be locked in and assured to befall over the next few decades.
Difficult as it is to communicate, absorb and process, let alone accept, and as shrill / alarmist as it may sound…
Our shared atmosphere is on an accelerating course to reach a state of potentially unsurvivable, global climate extremes during the lives of today’s children and teens. (Compilation: +4°C by 2060s or sooner catastrophic / incompatible with organized civilization.)
The projected rate of temperature change for THIS century is greater — and at least 10 times faster — than that of any extended global heating period over the past 65 million years, when somewhere between 75 and 95 per cent of all species alive at the time were rendered extinct.
We are in the midst — and primary cause — of the 6th great mass extinction event. 150-200 species die-off every 24 hours, up to 140,000 species per year, which is at least 1,000, maybe even 10,000, times the average background rate.
With Ocean acidification at its highest level in 300 million years and in a state of acceleration, the projected outcome of our current, carbon-intensive course is the potential collapse of ocean life within decades.
Sea levels could rise by metres this century and may be committed to tens of metres long-term.
Clear, present impacts ALREADY displace millions / KILL hundreds of thousands each year, and compromise the lives of billions RIGHT NOW.
With several key regulatory systems in advanced stages of breakdown / disruption / destabilization, the risks / threats / catastrophic implications of sudden / abrupt / unpredictable / irreversible shifts / tips / flips are ALREADY upon us.
No less than the fate of all generations of all peoples and most species hangs in the balance TODAY. And only emergency international action at emergency (world war-time) speed FAST *may be* proportional enough to confront the scale, scope and urgency of what is ALREADY the greatest crime against humanity, most life and most future life EVER. (Compilation: Betrayal of Life.)
To deny this is to deny reality. But if we take the choice to see and face the wickednes of the predicament, there will at least be possibilities.
- Compilation – Arctic meltdown / methane time bomb and the global climate EMERGENCY
- Compilation – Greenland ice sheet melt and the global climate EMERGENCY
- Compilation – Antarctica ice sheet melt and the global climate EMERGENCY
- Compilation – Ocean circulation disruption and the global climate EMERGENCY
- Compilation: Ocean acidification and the global climate EMERGENCY
- Compilation – IPCC reports, the 2°C danger threshold / carbon budget CON JOB
- Compilation – UN climate talks: Betrayal of life
- Compilation – +4°C by 2060s or sooner incompatible with organized civilization
- Compilation: EMERGENCY human impact reports expose the greatest crime against humanity, most life and most future life EVER
- Compilation – Geoengineering and the global climate EMERGENCY
- Compilation – James Hansen and the global climate EMERGENCY
Selected articles, posts, reports
- Article – Sea level rise over past century unmatched in 6,000 years, The Guardian
- Post – Sea levels to rise more than expected due to warming-driven surge in Greenland ice loss, J. Romm, J. Spross, Climate Progress
- Article – Experts say IPCC underestimated future sea level rise, The Guardian
- Post – Sea level experts concerned about ‘high-end’ scenarios, Climate Central
- Post – National Geographic maps our coast after we melt all Earth’s ice, raising seas over 200 feet, Joe Romm, Climate Progress
- Post – Pine Island glacier loss must force another look at sea-level forecasts as giant iceberg is spawned, D. Spratt, Climate Code Red
- Post – 150 years in 30 seconds: Sea level debt sinking U.S. cities, Climate Central
- Post – East coast faces rising seas from slowing Gulf Stream, Climate Central
- Post – Why Tokyo has more to fear from sea level rise than Vancouver, WP
- Post – Manmade carbon pollution already put us on track for 69 ft of sea rise, CP
- Post – Sea level rise accelerating faster than initial projections, Climate Central
- Post – 150,000 years of sea level history suggests high rates of future rise, SS
- Article – Climate change may force evac of vulnerable states within a decade
- Post – Sea level rise: It could be worse than we think, Climate Central
- Article – Underestimated impact of sea level rise on habitat loss? Science Daily
- Article – Scientists warn US East Coast over accelerated sea level rise, Guardian
- Article – East Coast sea level rise accelerating in ‘hotspot’ area, J. Zelman, HP
- Post – What makes sea level rise? Real Climate
- Post – The real and predicted effects of sea level rise, C. Bartlett, Ecology.com
- Article – UK nuclear sites at risk of flooding, Rob Edwards, The Guardian
- Post – Unlocking the mystery of rising seas, Michael D. Lemonick, Climate Central
General, interactive, Wikipedia
- Interactive map – If all the ice melted, National Geographic
- Interactive maps – What could disappear, NY Times
- Website – SeaRise.org
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