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Our Take: The Sea Level Rise & Coal Connection

Significant sea level rise (SLR) is inevitable. Whatever scenario plays out, we’ll have to take steps to mitigate and adapt to more coastal flooding and higher storm surges. The latest projections, based on new understanding of the potential impact of melting in Antarctica, suggest oceans will rise by 1.3 meters (4′ 3″) by 2100 even if the world keeps within the Paris Agreement target of limiting temperature rise to 2°C (3.6°F). This level is 50% above the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2015 authoritative projection. However, new research done at the University of Melbourne, was reported on in the Guardian by Michael Slezak entitled “Sea Levels to rise 1.3m unless coal power ends by 2050, report says.”  The article cites the new paper, which looked at all the factors contributing to SLR, suggests that if coal power generation falls to near zero by 2050 (only 13 years from now), carbon emissions would decrease enough to keep global temperature rise below 1.9°C. Less use of coal would also mean that drastic Antarctic melting would not be triggered, thus halving the estimated SLR. Even if you don’t personally live near a coast, millions of people do. Surely avoiding 2 feet of repeated urban flooding should be enough incentive to start advocating a rapid transition to low-carbon energy and urging all coastal and tidal municipalities to take all feasible steps to prevent or minimize as much disruptive flooding as possible.

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2 Responses

  1. What a surprising number of the sea level rises by 1.3 meters. People should pay attention to this number because it affects a lot. Once the sea level rises by 1.3m, a lot of civilizations will be gone, and land will stay beneath water forever. For example, Venice, a water that will be gone after the sea level rises to the certain number. In order to mitigate the rising of the sea level, we need to reduce the emission of the CO2. On the other hand, it is not easy because technology is not powerful enough to replace the use of coal by electricity. As a result, I think everyone should contribute to help to reduce the emission of the CO2 from now on. Otherwise, the earth will stay under the water in the future as the sea level keeps to rise.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Qihua. You are absolutely right about monitoring the release of carbon in the air to ultimately lessen the impact of the earth’s warming trend which can be seen by sea level rise

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