On the Making Waves podcast we talk about the Irish coast – it’s past, present and future.
How to Survive Sea Level Rise – Imagining Ireland in the Year 2100
What kind of future do we have in store? Fusion Power? Maybe. Flying Cars? Hopefully. Mayo win the All-Ireland again? Definitely!
For sure Ireland in the year 2100 will be very different from the country we live in now and it’s fun to speculate about the advances in technology and the changes in the world the future will bring but it’s really difficult to forecast 20 year down the road, let alone more than 80 years from now.
There are, however, some things we can be pretty sure about – thanks to 150 years of diligent global temperature record keeping – the world will be a warmer place in the year 2100.
And this will mean less ice in the great ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica, more water in our oceans and sea levels will be higher.
How much sea level rise are we talking?
If all the frozen ice in the world was to melt we’d see a global rise of 70 metres – that’s probably best described as the nightmare scenario. Good news is that’s not what is currently projected. A rise of about 1-2 metres is forecast if current increases continue. That can almost sound like a relatively small change but this increase could mean large parts of many cities, coastal communities and low-lying islands will be flooded and uninhabitable.
What can we do to survive sea level rises?
Ireland as an island in the vast Atlantic ocean should be thinking a lot about sea level rise. The census last year revealed 40% of the Irish population live within 5km of the coast. With every millimetre increase in sea level rise we are more vulnerable to the whims of the weather and the waves.
Adapting to this change is important
We need to be learning about sea level rise, talking about its significance and planning for its impacts. Sea level rise is an ongoing process not an event in the future. We should be continually adapting to it, thinking about how to grow with it. Flood warning systems and defences will be a part of this but also restoring and protecting our natural flood defenses like wetlands and dune systems is important.
The best way to survive sea level rise is to have years of preparation, education and expertise under our belts.
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