The only practical urgent question we need ask about global warming is “Are the ice-caps melting?”
Who or what caused it, how, why and when? are interesting questions for leisurely academic research, analysis and discussion.
The answer from the latest news today is YES. The ice-caps at the North Pole are melting, at an unprecedented rate. More precisely, the Arctic sea-ice (ice already floating on the sea) is disappearing rapidly in the summer melt. This melting will not make the sea-level rise. But, the sea-ice acts as a brake on the slippage of land based ice glaciers from the mountains in Greenland, Alaska, Canada, Siberia and Russia. On these land masses the permafrost is melting. Under the glaciers, which in Greenland for example are up to a mile deep or high, water is running at an unprecedented rate. The ice slides on the water – down to the sea – and as the glaciers thin out and break-up the sea-level does rise.
None of this was supposed to happen for another 100 years. It is happening now.
What it means for people living on the coastal margins, 80% of the world’s population, is an unplanned retreat up to higher land. How high and when?
I calculated the first question for my book Out of the Depths, “…when the 2.2 million square kilometres of snow and ice, rising up to a mile high on Greenland melts, sea level will rise dramatically. When the 13.8 million square kilometres, rising up to 3 miles high on Antarctica also melts – the sea will rise by about 300 ft (113 metres).” The North Pole land ice, on Greenland, will melt first and contribute about 1/7th of the increase – that is 43 feet (16 metres). Adding in the Canadian and Russian Arctic glaciers, the rise will be higher.
My novel tracks families in London and New York escaping the rising waters – and how they do or don’t survive. Read an Amazon E-copy now.
To check your district, download Google Earth (free) and zone in on your neighbourhood map; at the bottom of the screen is a tiny Height above Sea-Level measure that varies as the cursor moves across high and low land. It will show you your home’s height above sea-level.
When will the waters invade? I have tracked the scientific reports for 20 years. The forecasts have gone from rises of millimetres in hundreds of years to metres in tens of years. I think the sea is rising faster than any forecast yet published. Ask your local mayor what the contingency plans are.
Though the novel Out of the Depths is pessimistic, the follow up novel AD2516-After Global Warming tells us that the chaos and changes were all worthwhile. AD2516 looks back at the course of global warming and forecasts a great future for mankind and womankind. They are both enjoyable dramatic readable tales – based in scientific and socio-economic reality. I really do think this is our future.