If the currently attainable coal, natural gas and oil deposits are burned, the entire ice sheet covering Antarctica will melt into warming oceans, authors of the Sciences Advances study claimed.
The new projections say the first 100 feet of sea level rise would happen over the next 1,000 years, more than an inch a year, said Ken Caldeira, one of the study’s authors and a professor at the Carnegie Institution for Science.
“In the ‘burn it all, melt it all’ scenario, the environmental consequences are unacceptable,” Caldeira said Saturday. “Sooner rather than later the energy system is going to have to be rebuilt so it doesn’t dump carbon dioxide into the air.”
In total, that projected 200-foot rise would devastate low-lying coastal regions across the world.
Consider New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina where the 20-foot storm surge nearly wiped the city off the map. Los Angeles, New York City and nearly all of Florida would flood and disappear.
“Most projections this century are two to three feet of sea level rise, which we can deal with,” Caldeira said. “But 100 feet basically means abandoning London, Rome, Paris, Tokyo and New York.”
The paper’s apocalyptic conclusions are similar to the scenes recently painted by President Obama on his trip to Alaska.
He stressed that time is running short to change course at the Conference on Global Leadership in the Arctic.
“On this issue — of all issues —there is such a thing as being too late,” Obama said. “And that moment is almost upon us.”
Obama called on nations to make commitments to reduce carbon emissions at the United Nations climate summit later this year. “This year in Paris has to be the year that the world finally acts to protect the one planet that we have while we still can,” he said.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met with Obama at the White House in August to discuss renewable energy and aggressive targets that will be set out in Paris.