From: Yale Environment 360
Published September 12, 2017 09:36 AM

Taking the Long View: The 'Forever Legacy' of Climate Change

A century or two from now, people may look back at our current era — with its record-breaking high temperatures year after year, rapid disappearance of Arctic sea ice, and gradually rising sea levels — as part of a much cooler and far more desirable past. The spate of extreme weather events in the past month — which have devastated America’s fourth-largest city, Houston; spawned a massive hurricane that tore through the Caribbean and Florida; and swamped large swaths of India and Bangladesh — may well be a prelude to more monster hurricanes, Biblical rain events, and coastal inundations brought about by extreme weather and vastly higher sea levels.

If getting the public, the media, and politicians to pay attention to what might happen to our planet in 2100 seems hard enough, it’s even more difficult to focus on how high — according to the latest research — sea levels may be only a couple of centuries in the future.  Yet recent findings lend urgency to the need to contemplate what the world might look like 200 or 300 years from now if greenhouse gas emissions are not brought under control. “Urgent” may seem like a wildly inappropriate word when applied to such a long span of time, but the truth is that humanity’s continuing failure to bring our enormous carbon emissions under control will have planet-altering impacts that could continue not just for hundreds, but thousands, of years.

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Image: Sea level rise has shrunk India's Ghoramara Island from nearly 8 square miles to 2 square miles in recent decades.

Credit: ZUMA PRESS / ALAMY

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