South America:  If all ice on earth melts.

National Geographic Magazine asked the question, "What would earth be like if all ice on earth were to melt?"  They published these maps to illustrate the answer, based on a 216 feet higher sea level.

216 feet (64 m) increase in sea level would:

  • inundate large coastal cities
  • create an inland sea in the Amazon basin
  • displace a huge portion of our total population

Our planet is now absorbing more energy than it is radiating back into space.  We don't know how long that extra energy will take to melt all the ice... but we know that sea level is now increasing, glaciers all over the earth are shrinking, and sea ice is disappearing.  The last time the earth had our current level of carbon dioxide, sea level was 33-66 feet (10-20 m) higher than today.  We continue to increase the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at a record rate by burning fossil fuels, with no workable plan in place to stop.  Without action, inevitably, all the ice will melt.   We can't predict how long it might take, as there may be unexpected effects that accelerate the changes.

So hear is some food for thought:

  • As our cities go underwater, where will all their residents go?  (Rio de Janeiro up into the hills?)
  • How will government replace infrastructure?
  • As sea water warms, it expands, so sea level can continue to increase, even if there is no more ice to melt, if global temperatures continue to rise.
  • What if Asuncion, Paraguay were a sea-side resort?