Most of us in the developed world read this week that more of the Arctic sea ice has melted away than ever in human history. I usually shy away from saying “I told you so”, but forecasting is one of my roles for clients and flooding of our major cities is about to affect billions of lives – so a plug for my perspicacity is appropriate. Thus, what terrible doomsday does the melting ice portend?
The oceans have a surface area of 335 million square kilometres. Antarctica has an area of 13.8 million square kilometres which is 98% covered in ice, with a depth of up to 5 kilometres. Greenland, in the Arctic, has an area of 2.2 million square kilometres, with an ice cap of up to 2.6 kilometres. Should both the Antarctic and Arctic land based ice caps melt, the sea-level would rise 113 metres, or 370 feet.  Eighty percent of all the people in the world live below 300 feet, on the coastal margins. Greater London is all below 300 feet. Florida’s east coast urban areas are below 30 feet.  Manhattan Island rises just 36 feet above the ocean. The infamous settlement of Monmouth Junction in New Jersey is built at 135 feet above sea-level.  The centre of Oxford, England is 200 feet above sea-level. SW2000 Telework Studies 1994.
The above passage from Out of the Depths is accurate. When the land based ice sitting atop Greenland melts – and the ice on Antarctica melts – the sea level will rise by 300 feet – or 100 metres. This is the Biblical Flood of Noah on a grand scale. WHEN the rising waters will come to a town or coast near you depends on how rapidly ice melts. Try this experiment: put an ice cube on your desk and take bets on how long it will last. For a seemingly long time it just sits there defying the warm air; it seems it will never melt; then suddenly it collapses and within minutes runs to water.
Polar ice is very much colder, harder than steel (think of Titanic), and there is a lot of it to keep the sea and air cool. But, just like the solo ice cube, just like the Arctic Sea ice now, at the North Pole, even the seemingly permanent 3 miles high ice mountains will collapse surprisingly quickly. In my novel, 80% of the human race dies – but that is fiction. To survive, get a boat or migrate to higher ground. It will be chaotic and probably happen in your lifetime. That’s the bad news.
The good news is told in AD2516-After Global Warming. The human race recovers and creates a Utopian world of 11 billion souls. Like Out of the Depths, this book is also based on possible and probable scientific and socio-economic advancement. Both books track the process of polar ice melting. The first is now, today, focused on the waters rising district by district in New York and London (will your street be underwater?). The second looks backwards, also at London and New York and the whole planet.
They are both good, very readable yarns, based on real science, and both spell out what we, as individuals and families, ought to do now, as the polar ice melts. Or …you could wait for government instructions.


Exciting novels about the future, based on today’s science and politics

Noel Hodson – Author 16 Brookside UK OX3 7PJ OXFORD




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