In 2008, then President-elect Barack Obama said his victory marked “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”
Since Wednesday is Earth Day, The Daily Caller News Foundation is taking a look to see if Obama has actually lived up to that promise to slow sea level rise.
Environmentalists have been sounding the alarm over a recent Harvard University study that found that sea levels have actually been rising faster than scientists initially thought. The liberal blog ThinkProgress reports that the study showed “quite alarmingly, that the planet’s seas have been rising much faster than we thought.”
We “used to think the rate of acceleration of sea level rise in the last 25 years was only a little worse compared to the past — now that we know the rate used to be much slower, we know that it’s much worse,” ThinkProgress writes.
The study found that sea level rise during most of the 20th century was overestimated, meaning sea level rise since 1990 has been 2.5 times faster than the previous century. Alongside the study, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says “sea level is rising at an increasing rate.”
NOAA says sea levels rose “at a rate of 0.04 to 0.1 inches per year since 1900,” but that satellites suggest that sea level rise is higher at “0.12 inches per year.”
Sea levels have been rising since the end of the last Ice Age, and there are other factors that cause sea levels to rise and fall. But climate scientists and environmentalists say that currently, sea levels are rising much faster than in the past due to thermal expansion of the ocean and melting ice sheets.
The Union of Concerned Scientists, an environmental group, says that sea “level is rising — and at an accelerating rate — especially along the U.S. East Coast and Gulf of Mexico.” The group adds that even “if global warming emissions were to drop to zero by 2016, sea level will continue to rise in the coming decades as oceans and land ice adjust to the changes we have already made to the atmosphere.”
The Sierra Club’s California branch says sea levels in the Golden State could rise up to five feet by the end of the century, causing huge damage to coastal cities that it assumes would do nothing to combat changes over the next 75 years.
Even the president acknowledges rising sea levels are still a threat, despite his campaign promise. Obama will be travelling to the Everglades for Earth Day this year, where he says “rising sea levels are putting a national treasure… at risk.”
“So climate change can no longer be denied– or ignored,” Obama said in his weekly video address. “This is an issue that’s bigger and longer-lasting than my presidency.”
Interestingly enough, Obama recently issued an executive order for federal agencies to take future sea-level rise into account for new federal projects, along the coasts in particular. The order came three years after Hurricane Sandy caused massive storm surge along the East Coast.