While climate change may remain one of the most hotly debated issues of our time – at least among certain politicians – new study findings that were released Friday by a team of leading scientists from around the world clearly show the impact that continued burning of the world’s deposits of oil, coal and natural gas will have on our environment.
The paper was published in the journal Science Advances and found that burning fossil fuels will raise the global temperature and impact climate change. How much? Enough to completely melt the ice sheet that covers Antarctica, which would raise sea levels worldwide by at least 50 meters (160 feet), the New York Times reported.
More alarmingly, the scientists discovered at least half of the melting could occur within the next 1,000 years – much faster than previously expected – causing the ocean to rise by as much as one foot every ten years, or ten times the rate it is rising now. This increased pace for climate change was also directly linked to the continued burning of fossil fuels by mankind, stated Ricarda Winkelmann, a reasearcher for the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in German and the paper’s lead author.
“To be blunt: If we burn it all, we melt it all.”
If not handled properly, the increasing pace of climate change is poised to force a rapid retreat from the world’s coastal cities – something that would likely throw much of civilized human society into complete mayhem; the warming of the oceans will also increase exponentially as the ice in Antarctica melts, resulting in a total sea level rise of more than 200 feet after the smaller ice sheet on Greenland also disappears.
So what does this mean in practical terms for humanity? Well, according to Reuters, a sea level rise of this magnitude would see climate change destroy cities like New York and Shanghai, while also forcing us to revise world maps to remove much of the Netherlands, Bangladesh, and Florida. Other affected areas would include cities like Miami, New Orleans, Houston, Washington D.C., Amsterdam, Stockholm, London, Paris, Berlin, Venice, Buenos Aires, Beijing, Sydney, Rome and Tokyo. Large portions of Britain, the entire East Coast of the U.S., most of Louisiana and Texas, much of the vast European Plain and enormous swaths of coastal Asia would also be under water, leaving much of the world’s population homeless, according to Ken Caldeira, a co-author of the study from the U.S. Carnegie Institution.
“If we don’t stop dumping our waste carbon dioxide into the sky, land that is now home to more than a billion people will one day be under water.”
Although the most severe effects of climate change are not likely to affect even the great-grandchildren of people who are alive today, our actions will leave an indelible mark on the far distant future and could even determine the ultimate fate of mankind. The study confirms what others have also shown; reducing the use of fossil fuels could have a drastic, positive impact on slowing climate change.
“The new study confirms previous findings that how much of the world’s ice will melt is closely linked to how much total fossil fuel humans burn.”
Other findings in the new study show that burning all existing fossil fuels would also have a number of other negative effects on climate change, raising the average temperature on the planet by as much as 20 degrees Fahrenheit, causing enormous sections of the earth to be uninhabitable. This would also cause major problems for food production and drive much of the planet to extinction.
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