A Rise In Sea Levels
A rise in sea levels around the world as the result of the ice caps melting due to Global Warming is something that has been in the news in recent years. While we understand that a rise in sea levels would mean low lying coastal areas disappearing under water, the implications on life as we know if are far more widely reaching than just a reduction in land.
It has been forecast that in the next 80 years, that is by then end of the century, sea levels around the world could rise by as much as 2 metres or six feet.
While this might not seem an awful lot, just consider the size of the area around our coastlines that is within six feet of sea level. It’s a lot more than you think! In fact 33 countries around the world have significant populations in areas that are either close to sea level or below it.
If you take a more conservative view, which some scientists have put forward, of a sea level rise of only 3 feet by 2100, with current population levels that could mean over 150 million people having to relocate.
Can you imagine how much 150 million people is? That’s more than 10 times the population of London for a start.
The same source predicts the sea level rising by a foot by 2050, and if you haven’t paid attention to world news about the effects of climate change, it’s changing exponentially, not linearly. That means as time goes on, the effects of climate change are being felt faster with every year. It’s scary!
The Implications Of A Rise In Sea Levels On Society
It’s all very well to just say “oh well, when the sea levels rise I will move inland”, but when the inhabitable spaces in most countries are already crowded, just where exactly is everybody going to go?
Many of the largest cities in most countries are close to sea level and also close to the coast. How exactly do we relocate the centres of government, of commerce and of industry?
It’s not just a case of finding places for all these people to live. Most of the food that we grow is on land that is lower lying, either close to the coasts or in river valleys. With the loss of much of this land, how are we going to continue to feed an ever growing world population?
Now assuming all of these problems are solvable, which is near impossible, there is other fundamental issue which will have a huge impact on every single country in the world, namely trade.
Most countries rely on imports and exports for their economies to survive. Many also rely on imports of food products because they are not self sufficient with just their own production.
Although more and more trade is sent via air, the majority of heavy goods are still sent by sea, including food products.
So what happens if the sea levels rise, the current docking facilities in many ports are now unusable as they are underwater, and sea trade around the world is severely disrupted?
That means in a nutshell:
- food shortages due to inability to import goods
- economic ruin due to lack of trade
- mass unemployment
- starving people, civil unrest, uprisings, revolutions
With the complete disruption of civilisation due to the rise in sea levels, life as we know if will almost certainly come to a dramatic end, as one country after another struggles to maintain food supplies and loses control of law and order as riots break out, with gangs of people looting whatever they can find in an attempt to stay alive.
It really would not take much for this to happen, and I am almost certain that many countries would not be able to afford the upgrade of all coastal cites and ports to counter the effects of a dramatic rise in sea levels.
Just a bit worrying don’t you think?
References and Sources.
The following sources have been used to provide data and statistics for this article:
- These 8 sinking cities are most at risk of being swallowed by rising seas
- Sea level rise, explained
- Countries With The Most Low-Lying Urban Areas
- Sea level rise may double forecast for 2100
- A Terrifying Sea-Level Prediction Now Looks Far Less Likely
- Antarctic Modeling Pushes Up Sea-Level Rise Projections
Image used under a Collective Commons License from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bodey1450/552187593