A paper released yesterday by the European science journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics argues that climate change may be accelerating at a much faster rate than previously thought.
The scientists argue that sea levels could increase by so much over the next hundred years that coastal cities like New York, London, Rio de Janeiro and Shanghai could be underwater by 2100.
The report points to the Eemian period, which took place 120,000 years ago, when the Earth’s oceans were six to nine meters higher and temperatures were 1 degree higher than they are today.
Without a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emission, the Earth’s climate is currently on track to warm by 2 degrees. On top of that, the extreme temperature differences between the tropics and the poles could produce powerful storms.
“That would mean loss of all coastal cities, most of the world’s large cities and all their history,” Dr. James E. Hansen says in the paper.
In an interview with the New York Times, Dr. Hansen argues that “we’re in danger of handing young people a situation that’s out of their control.”