New report claims coasts may be uninhabitable within decades

sea level riseA new study casts extreme doubt over the near-term stability of global sea levels. The study, which was written by the world’s most famous climate scientist – James Hansen, NASA’s former lead climate scientist and 16 co-authors, concludes that the current consensus has vastly underestimated the speed of glacial melt, and that the impact on sea levels and coastal regions will be much worse, and happen much quicker, than previously thought.

In an unusual step, the study has been released without being peer reviewed in order to ensure it can be debated and publicised before the climate talks in Paris later this year. “You can see a lot of different points in this paper, and it’s going to take a while for the community to sort them out, but actually, the story is clear,” says Hansen. The bottom line conclusion, he says, is that sea level rise is “the big impact of human made climate change.”

In Brief
  • Glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica would melt 10 times faster than previous consensus estimates according to the report.
  • As a result there would be a sea level rise of 10 feet or more potentially starting within the next 50 years.
  • In the study’s likely scenario, cities such as New York City, London, Rio, Sydney – in other words every coastal city, town, village and resort “may only have a few more decades of habitability left.”
In Depth
In the Future
Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith is the editor and co-founder of Travindy. He is a writer and communications consultant working for a more responsible and sustainable tourism industry. He is the author of two books, writes a fortnightly blog on responsible tourism for World Travel Market, and provides consultancy to a wide range of companies and organisations, ranging from National Parks to individual hotels and tour operators.

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