Robert E. Kopp

Published On


Page Range

pp. 141-150

Print Length

9 pages

Sea Level Rise, 1970-2070

A View from the Future

What will climate scientists of the future have to say when assessing our generation’s impact on the Planet? Adopting a viewpoint fifty years from now, this chapter reflects upon a worrying future reality. Kopp focuses on the latest predictive models of sea-level rise, to hold our collective efforts at mitigating climate change to account. Looking to the past, he notes that, only in the 1970s did the global sea-rise, first identified three decades previously, garner widespread scientific attention. Throughout the chapter, the global picture is contrasted with local variations in sea-level rise, dependent on factors such as the geo-physics of ice sheets (which in some regions have led to recorded falls in levels), local ground sediment types and human activity. Applying the current trajectory of change, the chapter notes pointedly that, had the Paris Agreement been implemented, we could have avoided a 3°C rise in temperature and a 60-cm global sea-rise. The chapter nonetheless offers some hope that we can better adapt to local sea-level rise, predicting future government legislation in line with previous responses to emergencies, e.g., the flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Globally, however, the picture is bleaker, as the grim prospect of unborn, but already alphabetically assigned, cyclones make adaptation increasingly difficult.