We all know that climate change is affecting the ice in Antarctica, but what we didn't know until now is just how bad it could get.
According to a recent report, if we burned all the fossil fuels in the world, we would raise the temperature of the planet enough to melt the entire ice sheet covering Antarctica, which would raise sea levels by a massive 160 feet.
The report figures came as a surprise to scientists, with findings suggesting that half of the melting could occur in the next thousand years, equating to sea levels rising one foot per decade, or around ten times the current rate. This rate would almost certainly end in chaos, with people having to flee the coasts in order to move to higher ground.
Of course, Antarctica wouldn't be the only ice to melt in the world. The rest of the ice in the world would also melt, and in total could contribute to a sea level rise of more than 200 feet.
To put that into perspective, such a rise would put most of Florida, Louisiana, Texas, the entire East Coast of the U.S., large parts of Britain, much of Europe, and huge parts of coastal Asia underwater. A number of major cities would be lost, including Miami, New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Stockholm and Tokyo.
Of course, no one alive today would live to see such a disaster, but the study does highlight the risk that future generations will face if we continue on the path that we're on.
"This is humanity as a geologic force," said Ken Caldeira, one of the authors of the paper and a researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science in California, in an interview with The New York Times. "We're not a subtle influence on the climate system – we are really hitting it with a hammer."
Scientists have long thought that countries and governments would assume responsibility and see the dangers of continuing to dig up the fossil fuels of the world. Despite this, political efforts over the past 30 years to try and curb this have been largely ineffective.
In reality, the findings simply reaffirm what we already knew: the burning of fossil fuels and resulting carbon emissions is causing sea levels to rise, which will have disastrous consequences on humanity and on the planet itself.
The researcher's paper was published Sept. 11 in the journal Science Advances.
Via: The New York Times