Watergeddon is coming to a home near you in the next 10 years.
While analyzing various water related data, I’ve been asked numerous times where someone should look to live in the next 30-50 years because of the rapidly changing environment due to climate change. I tell them they should be thinking about where to live in the next 10 years. I predict 2030 will be the beginning of Watergeddon.
I would begin with the data IPCC has gathered on climate change. They conducted and released an extensive study called Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate. This is a must read for every human on the planet, unless your plan is to bury your head in the sand and ignore the life changing circumstances affecting you today and in the future.
I won't bullshit you. It is extremely hard to conduct massive research on water scarcity, pollution, deforestation, climate change, sea levels rising, extinction of animals and ecosystems without feeling despair, distress, negativity and pessimism. But in today’s news, we will go through the depressing facts and then we can discuss some of the water visionaries working hard to make another future.
But first, let’s have some fun. In 1995, the movie Waterworld came out starring Kevin Costner, Jeanne Tripplerhorn, Tima Majorino and Dennis Hopper. The premise of the movie was as follows:
After the melting of the polar ice caps, most of the globe is underwater. Some humans have survived, and even fewer still, notably the Mariner (Kevin Costner), adapted to the ocean by developing gills. A loner by nature, the Mariner reluctantly befriends Helen (Jeanne Tripplehorn) and her young companion, Enola (Tina Majorino), as they escape from a hostile artificial island. Soon the sinister Smokers are pursuing them in the belief that Enola holds the key to finding the mythical Dryland.
At the time, it was one of the highest budgeted films of all time, costing $175 million to make, with box office revenues of $262.4 million. In Hollywood, it was considered a failure. I have not seen the film in 25 years but after I’ll make sure I find the time to see it soon.
Video: "Waterworld" Film Trailer
Viewing the Waterworld trailer and looking at the numbers from IPCC got me thinking. Hollywood needs to do a remake of the film or a sequel. Maybe I can produce the sequel. But before I "go Hollywood" on you, let’s continue with the water data analytics.
The pessimistic side of me now asks, instead of "We Can Avoid the Catastrophe” should the subtitle of the Watergeddon book and documentary be “Can We Mitigate the Chaos?”
According to the IPCC report, the numbers for a massive dislocation of people is not a question of if, but a question of where, how many and when:
· The ocean and the cryosphere – the frozen parts of the planet – play a critical role for life on Earth. A total of 670 million people in high mountain regions and 680 million people in low-lying coastal zones depend directly on these systems. Four million people live permanently in the Arctic region, and small island developing states are home to 65 million people.
· Global warming has already reached 1°C above the pre-industrial level, due to past and current greenhouse gas emissions.
· The ocean is warmer, more acidic and less productive. Melting glaciers and ice sheets are causing sea level rise, and coastal extreme events are becoming more severe.
· There is urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit the scale of ocean and cryosphere changes, so ecosystems and the livelihoods that depend on them can be preserved.
· “The open sea, the Arctic, the Antarctic and the high mountains may seem far away to many people,” said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC. “But we depend on them and are influenced by them directly and indirectly in many ways – for weather and climate, for food and water, for energy, trade, transport, recreation and tourism, for health and wellbeing, for culture and identity.”
The pessimistic side of me now asks, instead of "We Can Avoid the Catastrophe” should the subtitle of the Watergeddon book and documentary be “Can We Mitigate the Chaos?” And as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, I decided to look up a few documentaries related to sea level rising. I found two documentaries Rising Threat from the Seas and Melting Ice, the Future of Arctic, which both show firsthand the changing of the Arctic and sea levels rising.
Video: Rising Threat from the Seas
o This is a disturbing video regarding how cities will be affected due to sea levels rising. For example, you will learn that it only takes 40 minutes for New York City to flood according to Case Study A: Future Coastal Storm Impacts on Transportation in the New York Metropolitan Region, headed by Klaus Jacob, geophysics at Colombia University.
o According to Robert Nichols, professor of coastal engineering, there are 136 coastal cities with populations of 1 million+ across the world. The population of these cities is more than 400 million people, and 10% of those people (40 million) live in coastal flood plain with current sea levels.
o Greenland’s ice cap is gigantic at 1,800,000 km2 in area and 1.67 km in height for a total of 2,700,000 gigatons (gt). 1 gt = 1,000,000. In the past 20 years, Greenland has lost an average of 266 gt of ice per year, contributing to a rise of 0.7mm per year. If all the ice were to melt, sea levels would rise 7.3 meters.
o You will learn that some of the coastlines are rising and whole others are sinking, which amplifies the sea level rise for some areas of the world where the coastline is sinking while the sea level is rising. Unfortunately for New York City, the coastline is sinking at the same time the sea level is rising.
o You will also learn from William Colgan, a glaciologist and climatologist with Gelogical Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS), “that ice is actually a fluid and follows the laws of fluid mechanics just like honey.”
o One of the most fascinating parts of the documentary is the sudden shift in sea level rise that occurred between 14,800 and 14,400 years ago. This was the fastest sea rise after the last ice age. In those four hundred years, the sea level rose 16 meters and averaged a rise of 4 meters per century.
Video: Melting Ice, the Future of Arctic
This documentary addresses many topics, from indigenous populations, such as the Inuit in Canada, taken advantage of as the Artic warms, to nations posturing for mineral resources to how the shipping routes will change as the result of ice melting.
If you want to watch a video summary of the IPCC report, then please watch Accelerating Ice Melt and Rapidly Warming Oceans from Just Have a Think.
Video: IPCC: Accelerating Ice Melt and Rapidly Warming Oceans
The video above is a must to watch. There are too many facts to mention so think of this video as a crash course in Melting of Ice, Warming of Oceans and Sea Level rise.
When you watch these documentaries, it is hard to argue against the ice melting, oceans warming, more powerful hurricanes and storm surges coming, cities going under water and millions and millions of people being displaced. The key question is where do all those people live?
One of the key solutions might be seeing the problem from a different angle. Jacques Rougerie, a visionary architect and oceanographer, asked the same question: Do you know how many climate refugees there will be? An estimated 200 to 300 million. Where will they live?
One of the solutions for sea level rise might be to build cities on water or under the sea.
Video: Living on the Water
o The documentary above is a must watch. It will inspire you because there are visionaries in the world that think outside the box. Interviews with Koen Olthus, Sacha Glasl, Marlies Rohmer Jacques Rougerie, Rames Najjar will inspire you.
Is the rise of the Blue Cities the answer to the sea level rising? Jacques Rougerie gives us a blueprint for a different future:
“The two great adventures of mankind are space and the sea. This is the future of humanity... We know less about the sea than we know about space. There are millions of creatures to study.”
To end on a positive note, please enjoy this slideshow of amazing and beautiful structures designed to float on water.