James Hansen, a prominent NASA climatologist, predicted the likelihood that the earth will reach a point of rising sea levels of up to a meter every 20 years. The reason for this is an extra degree of global temperature resulting in the runaway melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic Ice sheets. James Hansen wrote about the problems of scientific conservatism on this matter in New Scientist magazine saying "Scientific Reticence can hinder communication with the public about the dangers of global warming. We may rue reticence if it means no action is taken until it is too late to prevent future disasters".
It is relatively only in recent times that society has taken notice of Climate Change with the correlations between carbon dioxide and temperature rise. With the latest information we can see another correlation between temperature and an increase in sea level. According to William K. Michener, of the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center, the greenhouse effect will cause the ocean to gather thermal inertia that will heat the continents and slowly melt the polar ice caps, increasing ocean levels worldwide.
Dr. Karl Barganza, of the Melbourne Bureau of Meteorology states "When we are measuring averages so we're looking at Arctic sea ice. It was second-lowest on record in 2011 and looks like it's heading for a lowest on record this year. That is the sort of thing where you can definitely say look: There's an influence of Global Warming on a trend in the loss of ice in the Arctic."
In 2012 Ice2sea (a scientific research group funded by the European Union) concluded "There is increasing evidence that the loss of ice from polar ice-sheets is caused not by warming air, but by the warming waters produced as ocean circulation patterns begin to change. Projections of ocean change in the fjords around Greenland and the frigid seas around Antarctica show that this is likely to continue in future".
Satellites have detected thinning of the Greenland Ice Sheet at lower elevations, and glaciers are disgorging ice into the ocean more rapidly, adding 0.23 to 0.57 mm/yr to the sea within the last decade. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet is also showing some signs of thinning. Either ice sheet, if melted completely, contains enough ice to raise sea level by 5-7 meters.
Most climate scientists project rising ocean levels of one meter in the next 50-150 years. In the United States The Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) projects a land loss of about 22,000 square miles with this one meter increase. The EPA found that Louisiana, Florida, North Carolina, Texas and South Carolina would lose the most land in the United States. In Bangladesh there are 17 million people living on land that is less than one meter above sea level. Also, eighty percent of the Maldives Islands in the Indian Ocean will be gone with a sea level rise of one meter.
The problems we face are the result of major lobbying forces, such as the Fossil Fuel Energy Industry(coal,oil, natural gas). In order to maximize short term profits, they have influenced our governments to ignore the evidence of Climate Change and not to act. The focus should be on changing to renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power. There are those that say the cost will be too great but that is short term thinking. Fossil Fuels will be gone within a couple hundred years, so why not switch before their emissions are in the air we breath? The cost of fossil fuels will only go up at a rapid pace as they diminish in supply and the costs involved with doing nothing involve a bit more than money. It is up to us to put pressure on our governments and let them know that the status quo is unacceptable. We must let our governments know that we can change our leaders at the same rate as the climate until we see action. The Arctic Sea Ice is melting at a rapid rate due to the Greenhouse Effect. There isn't much we can do with rising ocean levels after the fact. How long can we go without doing something to stop the catastrophe that is about to happen?