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Climate Change Continues To Exacerbate Rising Sea Levels

Climate Change Continues To Exacerbate Rising Sea Levels

Avery Maloto
Ice caps are melting, causing a rapid increase in sea levels.

From the Himalayan Glaciers to Greenland’s terrain, climate change is melting ecosystems around the world. Over the last century, the Earth’s temperatures have been rising at an unnatural rate.

Unfortunately, this spike in warmth is causing a tremendous rise in sea levels. With icy lands from across the globe falling victims to climate change, a range of problems presents itself.

The Cyclical Nature of Climate Change

Increasing temperatures have caused frozen soils to thaw. As a result, permafrost melts, exposing the organic matter beneath its surface. This exposure is often the first time in thousands of years.

Creating a feeding ground, microorganism break down this organic matter, releasing a plethora of greenhouse gases. While these grounds hold almost 1,600 billion tons of carbon, the melting permafrost exists as a threat to the world’s atmosphere.

Permafrost melts and exposing the organic matter beneath its surface.
Permafrost melts and exposes the organic matter beneath its surface. Source: U.S. Geological Survey

With the potential to accelerate the global climate crisis, the constant emission of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide will only continue to raise temperatures through the greenhouse effect. As a result, the Earth is subject to what can be described as an endless cycle of permafrost melt.

Rising Sea Levels

Global sea levels are rising faster than previously predicted. By 2100, sea levels can rise by as much as 6.5 feet, according to some estimates. Consequently, nearly 200 million people will be displaced from their coastal homes and agricultural land will be damaged. Policymakers are working to provide solutions, but currently, there is simply not enough investment to fully combat the predicted threat.

In order to build sea walls for all coastal cities by 2040, investors will need to come up with $42 billion, according to the New York Times. However, this basic protection only accounts for cities over 25,000 residents. To expand the list to include communities that hold less than 25,000 residents will skyrocket the budget to over $400 billion.

With this data, both politicians and the public must face tough decisions. Smaller communities must depend on federal funding for future protection, unable to meet these startling costs on their own. However, every population is becoming vulnerable and at-risk to the threat of rising sea levels.

The Threat to National Security

For a long time, ice has been a natural border running along the waters of the high north. However, climate change is no friend to these frigid walls. As a result, the United States Navy is forced to keep a watchful eye near the Alaskan coast.

“You see the shrinking of the polar ice cap, the opening of sea lanes, more traffic through those areas,” Rear Admiral Daniel Dwyer said. “It’s the Navy’s responsibility to protect America through those approaches.”

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Wildlife rescuer Simon Adamczyk carries a singed koala from the smoldering remnants of gum forests on Kangaroo Island on January 7.

Rear Admiral Daniel Dwyer expresses concern towards opening sea lanes.
Rear Admiral Daniel Dwyer expresses concern towards opening sea lanes.

While the Department of Defense does not view the Arctic as a large threat to National security, it is looking to expand military presence in these areas. Driving this push is the alarming increase of activity in the region from Russia and China, two nations that the Pentagon considers as rivals.

To respond to the changing waters, the United States deployed an aircraft carrier above the Arctic Circle in 2018. It was the first naval vessel to sail that far north in almost three decades.

Although panic levels are currently low for the United States military, the future plans for national security are becoming dependent on the polar ice caps receding.

Changes Needed To Slow Melting

From rising sea levels to threats in security, the tides are turning, both literally and metaphorically. Unequivocally, the change in physical landscapes is forcing communities to adapt.

What’s clear is that immediate action must be taken by nations across the world. While the scope of their current initiatives is difficult to gauge, nations, given that they work together, may be able to buy time for the development of more sustainable solutions.

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