One effect of climate change is rising sea levels. Because of excessive carbon emissions since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, annual average temperatures have been on the rise. Because of this, the polar ice caps are melting, leading to an increase in sea levels. A study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows that sea levels may rise between 11 and 38 inches by 2100.
Major cities in the United States like New York City, Miami, Honolulu, Boston, and New Orleans, would be destroyed by this. Rising sea levels are also caused by the thermal expansion of water. Warm water is less dense and takes up more space than cold water, causing warmer sea waters to be another issue for low lying civilizations. The biggest problem with melting polar ice is the fact that its disappearance creates a positive feedback system. Polar ice (light/white surfaces) creates albedo which reflects sunlight back into space while darker surfaces (like the ocean) absorbs sunlight and convert it to heat. This means that while rising temperatures cause ice caps to melt, ice cap melt in turn causes temperature to rise. This fact alone exposes the severity of the issue of climate change and why it’s imperative for local and federal governments to take immediate action.