Tag Archives: sea level rise

Bleak, but not unexpected, news: capitalism is destroying the planet

greenland glacierBleak, but not unexpected, news today. According to a new report published in Nature, sea level rise over the last two decades has taken place at a significantly faster rate than previously reported. To be specific, the acceleration is 25% higher than so far assumed. Coasts from Florida to Bangladesh are threatened.

In a not-unrelated report, scientists also announced that 2014 was the hottest year ever recorded. The graphic to the right makes this point in quite stark terms.hottestyear2014

Finally, two studies by international teams of researchers have concluded that humans “are eating away at our own life support systems” at a rate not seen in the last 10,000 years. According to a summary article in The Guardian,

Of nine worldwide processes that underpin life on Earth, four have exceeded “safe” levels – human-driven climate change, loss of biosphere integrity, land system change and the high level of phosphorus and nitrogen flowing into the oceans due to fertiliser use.

Near the conclusion of the article, the articles’ lead author, Professor Will Steffen of the Australian National University and the Stockholm Resilience Centre, is quoted as saying,

“It’s clear the economic system is driving us towards an unsustainable future and people of my daughter’s generation will find it increasingly hard to survive. History has shown that civilisations have risen, stuck to their core values and then collapsed because they didn’t change. That’s where we are today.

A surprisingly direct indictment of capitalism, although the word is never directly mentioned by Steffen or by The Guardian.

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Waterworld

antarticaHard on the heels of news that the Western Antarctic ice sheet has already begun to collapse, and that this collapse is now unstoppable, satellite observations have revealed that Antartica is shedding twice as much ice as previously estimated.

160 billion tonnes of water are currently finding their way into the world’s oceans, a new report reveals. Nearly 90% of this huge meltdown is coming from the Western ice sheet. The new images reveal that significant melt off is taking place across the continent.

The collapse of the Western ice sheet would cause a calamitous 13 feet of sea level rise.

The implications for the world’s cities, the great majority of which lie in coastal areas, are terrifying.

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