Climate change is a topic that has been discussed by many people nowadays — from those having casual conversations to legislators, and it was a big topic of debate during the presidential elections. Some of the effects of climate change can be seen more prominently than others, such as the extreme shift in the weather, which produces a cause and effect reaction to things such as wildfires, which we’ve seen at an alarming rate in Australia and California. However, one effect of climate change that is looming on the horizon for the very near future, but isn’t spoken about to the extent that it should be, is the rise of the sea level around the globe.
In an article written by Bob Berwyn titled “Antarctic Ocean Reveals New Signs of Rapid Melt of Ancient Ice, Clues About Future Sea Level Rise”, recent studies show that “ice shelves can, during eras of rapid warming, melt back by six miles per year, far faster than any ice retreat observed by satellites.” Ice shelves are basically huge walls made of ice that sit in the ocean because they are essentially a part of the ocean. They serve as a defense, stopping the glaciers on land from entering the ocean. The worry of climate change in Antarctica is focused around the melting of these ice shelves because since they are protecting the ocean. Once those ice shelves are removed the glacial ice on land can now freely flow into the ocean and that is what causes the sea levels to rise. The rising sea levels can compromise our water system due to the fact that salt water can find its way into our water filtration systems.
As you can see in the diagram below, this happens because the melting ice shelves become detached from frozen anchor points in the ocean floor called the “grounding line”. Then, as the tides rise it begins to lift the ice shelf as it flows toward the shore. As the tide falls it creates ridges in the sedimentary rock which compromises the anchor points which continues the cycle and enables the ice shelves to melt at a faster rate.
The more immediately felt effects of climate change is the increase of flooding in coastal/ low lying areas mainly along the Eastern seaboard and the gulf coast. In an Inside Climate News article written by Nicholas Kusnetz. He writes about the increase in frequency of coastal flooding which is heavily affecting homeowners as well as city and state budgets. The flooding is causing erosion which makes those coastal homes something called “at risk homes” which causes property values to plummet, and due to this, some cities have been forced to almost eliminate property tax. That is where the problem lies for cities and states. Property taxes are put in place for the city to use to fix damages caused by natural disasters and to an individual’s home. Being that the rise in sea level is causing coastal flooding which subsequently is destroying property values because it’s eating away at land used to build homes on, the government has to pay to build up walls and other barriers to prevent flooding. However, governments aren’t receiving any funding to do that so money is consistently being withdrawn at a high rate. Also, funds aren’t being deposited at an equal rate which would cities and states in a constant cycle of debt. Cities can adapt by changing the way they allocate funds but this can diminish the amount of funds for other necessary programs in that specific city. It is a tough decision to be made, but a necessary one.
Climate change is something that nobody really wants to talk about because there’s no easy fix, but if not addressed the effects would be devastating not only for people, but also wildlife and the environment. Yes, the totality of the effects of climate change may not be felt during our life time or even our children’s life time, but it will affect each of our family’s future. I think that it is important that we do the best we can to first gather as much information possible and use that information to come up with a solution to maintain a world that can support human life.