Greedy Oceans

My research about sea-levels in 2399

You of course are aware that sea-levels are rising world-wide. But you don’t know how fast. I’m sure of that, because not even the experts know for sure. But they can make very educated guesses, certainly more educated than any of us, mere mortals.

When I began writing Advent of Dreamtech [LINK], I had to visualize a world four hundred years in the future. A post-apocalyptic world without any technologically-advanced civilization able to perform any sort of world-shaping magic. I assumed the climate crisis would have kept unrelentingly moving across the centuries. Not a hard assumption to make, unfortunately. Not even if we would magically stop pouring our s**t into the air. We are probably past several tipping-points [LINK] already, and if not, we will soon be.

The Journey to 2399

I didn’t even know where to set the story back then. These were the very early stages of my research. So, I dutifully sat, turned my laptop on, called dear Google up, and began the journey of discovery of the shape of our future lands.

First, I had to decide if the sea level would rise significantly, or not. And if so, by what amount exactly. There are optimistic projections, and pessimistic ones. From what I could gather way back in 2019, I decided that a rise of 10 meters (11 yards) was possible, although leaning very much on the pessimistic side. But pessimistic was good! I was going to write an epic sci-fi story after all.

Well, how a couple of good climate-battered years peppered with more scientific research [LINK] change the picture. Check this graph out. It shows the most recent projections:

Possible pathways for future sea level rise

I am not sure how used you are to reading graphs. They are tricky bastards, designed to offer simple conclusions from complex processes. Many of them are twisted in smart ways to manipulate our feeble opinions, by changing scale or proportions. But this one is as straightforward as you can get, plotting expected sea rise (in feet, not in meters!) until 2100.

And I was appalled.

First thing I noticed is that, for most projections, the sea level growth is exponential, not linear. For my less numerically-inclined readers, this means the problem gets worse with time, even if we don’t ourselves do worse.

Then, I began doing some simple estimations. Let’s take the intermediate projection. By 2100 3.3 feet rise are expected, say then that another 3.7 (raised a bit due to the exponential growth) for 2200, another 4.5 for 2300, another 5.5 for 2400. Total: 17 feet (5 meters). Doesn’t look like a lot, but that is just the intermediate estimation generated by climate models. And which fool plans for an intermediate scenario? I say, we better brace ourselves for the worst, and still possible case. The same back-of-napkin exercise on the intermediate-high projection results in 27 feet (8 meters), and the high projection in 39 feet (12 meters)! That is even worse than my imagined world of the Goah’s Imperia of the twenty-fifth century.

Good news are that the more optimistic projections are actually (for now) more likely. The currently observed trend is, so far, running below the intermediate one. Now, I was raised skeptical. I’m not inclined to believe something just because I desperately want it to be true. And what I see so far is that, year after year, the most optimistic projections are thrown down the bin and supplanted by slightly more dear ones. You make your own call, of course.

And… The World in 2399

Okay, so how does the world look like after seas engulf the 10 lowest meters of our continents? I got you covered. Taking advantage of some map-making software I got for my role-playing game hobby, I made a map centered on Edda van Dohla’s Lunteren of 2399.

Behold, Dreamtech fans. Here is Western Europe in 400 years!

Western Europe in 2399

Would you like to see how your own corner of the world would (will?) look like? Check out this wonderful website that answers just that: [LINK]

Enter your desired elevation in meters (10 meters in my future 2399 Earth), and explore your neighborhood. I hope you are more lucky than me… Enjoy!

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