Photo by George Steinmetz for National Geographic
National Geographic just launched a new series of interactive maps that demonstrate just how catastrophic it would be if all five million cubic miles of ice on Earth were to melt. Entire cities would sink as the sea rises by 216 feet, reshaping the world as we know it while average temperatures rise to around 80 degrees Fahrenheit instead of the current 58. Scientists say it would take more than 5,000 years to melt all of the ice on Earth, but if we continue adding carbon to the atmosphere at current rates, it could happen a lot sooner.
New York, San Francisco, New Orleans, and London are just some of the cities that would be submerged, as well as the entire state of Florida. The destruction of entire cities is also likely to cause unprecedented population migrations across continents, which would compound existing problems such as disease, poverty and violence. Resources would become even scarcer than they already are, and the need for expansion could lead to the outbreak of disputes between countries over territory.
Outside of the United States, entire sections of Northern Europe would be wiped out along with much of the east coast of the United Kingdom. Huge swaths of land in northern China would be submerged, and countless islands in countries like Indonesia and the Philippines would disappear.
The map of the future serves as a stark reminder of what will happen if disregard for the environment continues unabated. Take a look for yourself here and see if your current residence will escape rising sea levels.
Lead image by ©George Steinmetz for National Geographic, Sustainable sanitation