Bye, Bye Florida: Scientists find the last time it was this hot, Seas rose 65 feet

A study published in Nature Geoscience by researchers, from Imperial College London and their academic partners shows that 5-3 million years ago in the Pliocene, the last time it was as hot as it is going to be in this century, antarctic ice shelf melting caused a sea level rise of as much as 20 meters (65 feet).

At 65 feet sea level rise, we basically lose Louisiana and most of Florida, according to this useful intractive map:

60 feet sea level rise Florida

In both cases, the warming was caused by the hothouse gas carbon dioxide, which traps the heat of the sun in earth’s atmosphere and prevents it from radiating back out to space. (Venus is a torrid hell with rivers of molten lead because it has a lot of hothouse gases in its atmosphere). In past times, C02 built up over millions of years because of volcanic activity. In our time, we are conducting a massive experiment on ourselves by running up parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere from 287 in the 18th century when the United States was founded, to 400 ppm today; we are rapidly going toward 450 and even 500 ppm, which could destabilize the climate and endanger human life on earth. Coal plants, natural gas plants, and burning petroleum to fuel vehicles are the major sources of C02, i.e. we are doing this to ourselves.

Although we will like go to a 4 degrees C./ 7.2 degree F. increase in this century, the full effects of it won’t be felt for centuries. Note that that is a higher concentration than in the Pliocene! In this century we will likely see 4 to 5 feet sea level rise if we go on like we are now. dumping the raw sewage of C02 into our air in amounts of 35 billion metric tons annually.

16 Responses

  1. And the band played on.

    Capitalist feel that they can move to a nicer place I guess so while the media is in the hands of capitalist they will ignore the 400ppm CO2 story (a three to five million year high) as long as they want to.

    Royal baby watch anyone.

    • I guess we ordinary folks can consider ourselves, like maybe the Neanderthals and earlier models, a kind of “booster rocket” for the very special wealthy, fit to burn ourselves out sending them into that higher orbit, or maybe even to escape velocity. You know, that tiny fraction of the species, blessed with the Acquisitive gene, who, as many of us may have finally realized, actually will inherit the earth — or what’s left of the temperate zones…

      And for something completely different, tune in here, and enjoy the show: link to THAT’s what we are, given the smallest opening.

  2. If Rush has to move from his Florida home, only then it will be understood by him & his followers & others that there is a climate change due to our activities on the planet earth.

  3. The IPCC is about to come out with a report revising climate CO2 sensitivity downward:

    link to

    “In the new draft, the lower end of the range has been reduced to 1.5°C and the “most likely” figure has been scrapped. That seems to reflect a growing sense that climate sensitivity may have been overestimated in the past and that the science is too uncertain to justify a single estimate of future rises.”

    I wouldn’t sell my beach house in Miami just yet. Detroit should be safe though, maybe people will move back there.

    • The two findings are not strictly comparable. The 2007 report talks about equilibrium temperatures in the very long term (over centuries); the forthcoming one talks about them in 2100. But the practical distinction would not be great so long as concentrations of CO2 and other greenhouse-gas emissions were stable or falling by 2100. It is clear that some IPCC scientists think the projected rise in CO2 levels might not have such a big warming effect as was once thought.

      There are several caveats. The table comes from a draft version of the report, and could thus change. It was put together by the IPCC working group on mitigating climate change, rather than the group looking at physical sciences. It derives from a relatively simple model of the climate, rather than the big complex ones usually used by the IPCC. And the literature to back it up has not yet been published.

    • I suggest you read the article by Joe Romm at Climateprogress on what the economist had to say.

      Here’s a quotation from Joe’s article:

      “Here’s The Economist’s idea of responsible journalism. Begin by quoting UN chief climate negotiator Yvo de Boer on the forthcoming fifth assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC):

      THAT report is going to scare the wits out of everyone.

      Then dig up some unpublished, unsubstantiated chart to make the case “it might be less terrifying than it could have been.” No, seriously, the Economist devoted an entire article to argue that a draft climate change report “might be less terrifying than it could have been.

      The Economist also seems blissfully unaware of the fact that we are currently close to the 1000 ppm emissions pathway. And The Economist also seems blissfully unaware that stabilizing anywhere near 450 ppm atmospheric concentration of CO2 would require immediate and sustained action to replace the world’s fossil fuel system with one based on carbon-free energy — precisely the kind of aggressive action this piece seems designed to undercut.”

      Read the whole thing if you wish at:

      link to

      There’s no better way to inform yourself on this subject.

  4. Florida and Louisiana! At 20 m we lose most of NYC, Washington DC, Venice, The Netherlands and London for starters!

  5. South Florida is going to be uninhabitable long before it is underwater. It sits on porous rock, which allows the sea water to infiltrate into the groundwater. As more groundwater is pumped out, its water pressure decreases, allowing more and more salinity to enter the water supply.

    Decades ago, they built canals in which fresh water would pool at a higher elevation, increasing the water pressure and resisting the infiltration. Now, with just a few inches of sea level rise, that water isn’t high enough anymore, and the salinity is increasing again.

    South Florida’s water problems make New Orleans look easy. That part of the country is doomed, and will need to be written off in the not-too-distant future.

  6. The timespan of sea level rise, is probably longer than the timespan for the built infrastructure to crumble away. We will just stop repairing at risk infrastructure….

    I think a bigger problem, is that anything you do portwise, will have to deal with the fact that the sea level is in fact rising, and docks and other stuff will have to be movable -so it will be more expensive.

  7. Our world has been going through changes for many years and there is very little we can do to stop nature taking its course. In basic terms we may be able to speed things up or slow things down but at the end of the day the flow of nature always wins.

    • If human society collapses to a pre-industrial stage because of climate change, CO2 levels and the amount of energy in the atmosphere and oceans will, indeed, fall back down to their natural levels. Eventually.

      This does not make me feel any less worried.

    • This is not nature taking its course. This time, it’s nature responding to our course.

    • But our capitalist economic system is very sensitive to things speeding up or slowing down; investors make assumptions about rate of return on investment and when those assumptions go wrong, we have crashes. Since the investors have, generally, a right-wing bias they will keep guessing wrong about climate effects on their capital. The problem is, those crashes in turn cause cancellations of alternative energy programs and scientific research. So we lurch from calamity to calamity, and more of our “growth” consists of paying people to clean up the messes while our quality of life actually falls.

      Remember, this system is so touchy that a few terrorists with a clever attack can cause a global market crash. This stuff is so much bigger and more relevant than that.

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