The sea rise rate today is the fastest and highest since the founding of ancient Rome, and new international research studies predict that unless action is taken, sea levels will rise to a much higher level. While the direct effect of rising sea levels might have little concern to someone living away from coastal flooding areas, the findings of the new research studies should concern everyone.
The studies on the sea rise rate were published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), reports Science on February 22. While the maps presented by PNAS show the increasingly routine tidal flooding that is creating problems in places like Miami Beach, Florida; Charleston, South Carolina; Norfolk, Virginia; and San Diego, California; the researchers’ findings on what is causing the rise in sea level spans across the country.
“We present the first, to our knowledge, estimate of global sea-level (GSL) change over the last ∼3,000 years that is based upon statistical synthesis of a global database of regional sea-level reconstructions. The 20th century rise was extremely likely faster than during any of the 27 previous centuries. Semiempirical modeling indicates that, without global warming, GSL in the 20th century very likely would have risen by between −3 cm and +7 cm, rather than the ∼14 cm observed.”
Sea levels rise as glaciers and ice sheets melt and add more water to the oceans. According to the international researchers, the symptom of the rising sea level rate can be traced back to global warming, greenhouse gases, and most importantly CO2 emissions.
“Due largely to human emissions, global temperatures have jumped about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit since the 19th century.”
While some might not be concerned about the rise in sea levels, global warming, and increasing greenhouse gases, below is a list of concerns that might be interesting to everyone:
1. As sea levels rise, people living in major cities like Miami, New York City, New Orleans, Venice (Italy) will lose their homes and businesses.
2. As sea levels rise, tourism suffers from coastal damages. Higher sea levels will mean less space at the beach. Erosion along coastal areas is endangering beaches and cliffs.
3. As sea levels rise, coastal sewer systems are getting backed up into inland areas.
4. As sea levels rise, the ecosystem is thrown out of balance when more saltwater is entering freshwater.
5. As sea levels rise (as a result of global warming), inland areas are hit by heat waves and droughts.
6. As temperatures continue to rise, winter areas are feeling the effects of insufficient snow and/or shorter seasons for cold weather activities like outdoor ice skating, snowmobiling, and ice fishing.
7. As sea levels (saltwater) and temperatures rise, many areas are seeing vegetation dry out and die. San Diego’s trees have never been drier, the grass browner, and lakes or streams drying out.
8. As sea levels and temperatures rise, the global ecosystem is seeing various changes that have never been witnessed before. California’s waters are so warm that tropical snakes and great whites are finding their way up north. As seawater reaches farther inland, it causes destructive erosion, flooding of wetlands, contamination of aquifers and agricultural soils, and lost habitat for fish, birds, and plants.
9. As sea levels, air temperatures, and CO2 emissions continue to rise, the most direct effect that people will feel is their health. According to a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health, carbon dioxide (CO2) has a direct and negative impact on human cognition and decision-making. “These impacts have been observed at CO2 levels that most Americans — and their children — are routinely exposed to today inside classrooms, offices, homes, planes, and cars.”
10. Other health effects of too much exposure to CO2 include shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness, restlessness, increased heart rate and blood pressure, visual distortion, impaired hearing, nausea, and in severe cases loss of consciousness or death.
In regard to CO2, the EPA writes the following:
“Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities. In 2013, CO2 accounted for about 82% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. Carbon dioxide is naturally present in the atmosphere as part of the Earth’s carbon cycle (the natural circulation of carbon among the atmosphere, oceans, soil, plants, and animals). Human activities are altering the carbon cycle—both by adding more CO2 to the atmosphere and by influencing the ability of natural sinks, like forests, to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. While CO2 emissions come from a variety of natural sources, human-related emissions are responsible for the increase that has occurred in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution.”
“To find out more about the role of CO2 warming the atmosphere and its sources, visit the Causes of Climate Change page.”
Can someone really make the connection between the rise of asthma in children to the rise in sea levels? It all depends on how one looks at Earth and everything that sustains its life. The researchers of Monday’s PNAS publications have explored the clear link between the rise in sea level, global warming, and CO2 emissions. Whether or not anyone uses the knowledge about the sea rise rate and increasing health problems rate is up to each individual.