Campus Sustainability Office

Sea level rise

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Current sea level rise around the world is increasing steadily. Raising global air and sea temperatures, melting glaciers, and changing climate patterns are driving this rise. Human induced climate change Sea_Level_Rise.pngis the main cause to this current trend and is estimated to account for displacing 50 million people by 2020 (largely due to rising sea levels) and sink 180 U.S. cities by 2100.

(CC Image (right) of sea level change from 1870 - 2008. with credits at bottom of image)

However, as great of an issue as rising sea levels are for millions of people, the sources and reasons behind this change are indicative of a wide range of issues that cumulatively outweigh sea levels. Sea level rise is an example of viewing an issue through a sustainable lens, where we examine the causes and seek to ameliorate the issue at it's source, and can be better equipped to react and build resiliency in the broader scope, as sustainability represents a vast systems perspective on how everything is interconnected and therefore cannot be overanalyzed by itself.

Sea level rise is occurring due to human-induced climate change. Through deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions such as CO2, methane, and others are contributing to the ice melting and the sea level rising.

International talks such as the Kyoto protocol, or the climate change talks that are held annually have led to little effective change in policy or approach to climate change by nations. In fact, most environmental and sustainability advocates at the 2013 Warsaw talks left early in protest to the lack-luster and un-substantial agreements reached (videovideo), vowing to return with more radical initiatives to spur progress at the next talks (many countries even refused to participate). Unfortunately the engines of our nations (the current economic paradigm of capitalism) run against the needs of the climate. We need to use less fossil fuels, invest heavily into renewable energies, create incentives to do right by people, the planet, and the environment, as well as, create jobs that protect these policies while dismantling the systems and perverse subsidies that are leading us towards social and environmental collapse.

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