Sea level rise due to melting glaciers on Greenland and in the Arctic and Antarctic could force the relocation of 267 million people and entire cities located less than 2 meters — 6.5 feet — from today’s waterline by 2100. Oceanographer John Englander has raised the alarm about sea level rise in his books, High Tide on Main Street and Moving to Higher Ground. John runs the Rising Seas Institute and leads regular visits to Greenland to spur awareness of the accelerating loss of its glaciers. We talked with him in 2021, when Moving to Higher Ground was released, and he returns to the show to share an update on the pace of warming, the Thwaites Glacier and Ice Shelf in Antarctica, Greenland’s rapid loss of ice, and the preparations necessary for adaptation to a world of constantly rising seas.
NASA warns that continuing warming could raise sea levels by 5 meters (more than 16 feet) by 2300. The early damage will be felt across more than twice the expected coastal land than previously expected, according to a January 2023 Dutch research study published in the journal Earth’s Future, because previous satellite analysis misestimated the altitude of heavily forested land. The potential cost of protecting seaside cities and raising port facilities will run into the trillions of dollars. Perhaps that spending can be an opportunity to rethink our infrastructure comprehensively, but in the midst of a crisis people are not prone to be very forward-looking.
John Englander’s books are available online. Look for “Moving to Higher Ground: Rising Seal Level and the Path Forward” at Amazon and Powell’s Books and “High Tide on Main Street: Rising Sea Level and the Coming Coastal Crisis” (Amazon; Powell’s Books). You can learn more about John and his work at johnenglander.net.