National Geographic has created a set of maps showing where the earth’s coastlines would be if all of the planet’s ice cover melted – a scenario that would see sea levels rise over 200 feet (almost 61 metres).
Just imagine: if this were to happen, the entire Atlantic seaboard would vanish and land that’s currently inhabited by 600 million Chinese would flood. Even more threatening is thinking about what could happen, in this case, to low-lying islands, such as the Alaskan villages, whose inhabitants were described by the BBC as ‘America’s first climate refugees’.
Rising Seas, initiated by National Geographic, is a set of interactive maps which show the present coastline and the presumed new coastlines should the the sea level raise more than 216 feet. The maps show each continent on earth and the consequences of all ice sheets melting.
After the ocean, ice is the biggest water reservoir on our earth, accounting for more than five million cubic miles. Some of the discourse around climate change has stated that if we keep emitting the same amout of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, by 2100 we could surpass the tipping point of creating an ice-free planet with predictions that global temperatures are set to rise by 4°C by the end of the century.
Although the National Geographic maps just paint a “what if” picture, they are a wake-up call for us to think more intently about sustainability and intuitive ways we can care for future generations’ needs when consuming our present day resources.