As sea levels rise the impacts are already being felt around the world. Because the phenomenon is widespread there has been a spate of news reports and new scientific studies reconfirming that the rising seas are caused in great part by greenhouse gas emissions.
One study making headlines is by controversial climatologist and former NASA scientist James Hansen, sometimes referred to as the “climate guru” or the “father of climate change.” Hansen’s report, which was researched by 19 international climate scientists, is an alert warning of ‘several meters’ rise of sea water that will swamp and submerge coastal cities such as New York, Miami, Norfolk, San Francisco Bay Area, Rio de Janeiro, Calcutta, Jakarta and Shanghai. Hansen introduced the concept of a feedback cycle between the oceans and massive ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland that pointed to sea levels rising ten times faster than previously predicted: 6-15 feet by the end of the century.
Another study released last week by Nature.com titled “Millions Projected to be at Risk From Sea-level Rise in the continental United States” said flooding from sea-level rise could disrupt the lives of more than 13 million people in the United States, especially those living in Florida and the Southeastern United States. Authors of that report were Mathew E. Hauer, Jason M. Evans and Deepak R. Mishra.
Probably one of the most afflicted areas from the rising sea levels is the Marshall Islands, a country of five single islands and 29 coral atolls (a ring shaped coral reef, island or series of islets) spanning some 500,00 square miles in the Pacific Ocean. For years rising seas have been devastating the Marshall Islands where most of the 44 square miles of dry land is less than 3 feet above the high tide mark. Majuro, the capital, has been flooded and swamped about two dozen times since 1979, and flooding has increased over the years. Just last week those living in the low-lying areas had to again withstand flooding from days of high tides. Two years ago flooding was so severe on the eastern shore of the main Majuro Atoll, many islanders were forced to live in temporary shelters. According to the Honolulu-based National Weather Service, a US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – (NOAA) – supported agency, more severe flooding is expected in the next two months. The country has sought to tap funds that the United Nations earmarked for climate change aid for vulnerable countries. “We want to prevent erosion and stop flooding,” UN ambassador Phillip Muller said recently. “But, he said, not much of the pledged money has flowed to the countries that most need it.”