Sea levels are rising, though there is little agreement on how much has happened and how much will come over the next century, there is general consensus that we will need to learn how to adapt to a changing coastline. In their book The Rising Sea, scientists and authors Orrin Pilkey and Rob Young claim that “governments and coastal managers should assume the inevitability of a seven-foot rise in sea level.” According to their reassessment of the 2007 IPCC report in light of the past two years, rising sea levels are not a thing of the future, but something that is very real and is happening right now.
The authors argue that because the could not be understood, the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets were not included in the U.N. International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report in 2007- a major flaw in the study.The IPCC report predicted a 2 foot rise in sea levels over the next century- Pilkey and Young base their book on the premise that it will be at least 7 feet. They further argue that while 20th century sea level rise was due to thermal expansion of ocean water, melting ice sheets will become the major contributor and factor.
The issue hits home with The Association of Small Island States, many of which are already dealing with the effects of rising sea levels. According to their website:
“Serious adverse impacts are already being felt by island states at the current 0.8°C of warming, including coastal erosion, flooding, coral bleaching and more frequent and intense extreme weather events. The U.N.’s lead agency on refugees has already warned that some particularly low-lying island states are ‘very likely to become entirely uninhabitable’.”
Konrad Steffen, a glaciologist from the University of Colorado and member of a recent research trip to Antarctica, said of the Copenhagen Diagnosis:
“We want to tell people it is urgent. We see changes that we did not anticipate two or three years ago.”
In predicting a minimum of a 7 foot rise, The Rising Sea authors are suggesting the ocean will rise more than double the original prediction the IPCC report.