Climate change is already having large and substantial impacts all over the world. Inter-disciplinary links, such as between climate, health and ecology, are becoming more obvious to researchers, as our knowledge progresses. One of the key results of climate science is that carbon emission reductions and adaptation to unavoidable changes are urgently needed efforts. Paradoxically however, society is still operating under a false paradigm that climate science talks about future, perhaps distant events of high impact.
The reality is that climate change impacts are happening right now, and our society is already changing because of them. A recent paper on climate extremes attribution has shown that decreased winds are causing more marine heatwaves, and that there is a seven-fold increase in wild fire risk in continental regions due to climate change (Herring et al., 2021). Importantly, a paper by the Harvard School of Medicine shows that Covid19 may be linked to the root causes of climate change, including air pollution and biodiversity loss. These are not future projections. They represent impacts that have already been happening over the last two decades all over the planet. Covid19, for example, has already significantly changed our society, further highlighting the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems for our own survival.
While sea level is rising relatively slowly, further rises are certain, as a function of excess CO2 in the atmosphere that has already been committed. While nobody knows how much sea level will rise by the end of the century, the certainty that it will continue to rise means that a responsible action demands that we investigate and act accordingly, based on acceptable risks. We need to explore, therefore, what the potential impacts of various levels of change might be for our region.
As such, the SLR tools developed or endorsed by GWRC (both 2D and 3D) are not an attempt to predict exactly what is going to happen. The tools are simply an approximate attempt to graphically illustrate an example of sea water levels, and potential associated impacts, during extreme high tides under different arbitrary sea level rise scenarios. The modelling here presented has not been checked against more realistic ‘dynamic’ scenarios, and so real world impacts could be worse in certain areas and less acute in other areas. While the maps cover local details making use of the best available mapping technology to us, it must not be used to inform specific local policy and mitigation decision without further and more targeted dynamical model simulations.
Harvard School of Public Health: Coronavirus and climate change
Herring et al., 2021: Explaining Extreme events of 2019 from a climate perspective. Special Supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, vol. 102, number 1