Curious what the planet would look like if all the world’s ice melted? Let’s just say the topic has been on my mind lately. National Geographic did the math, with pictures to help us wrap our heads around it. If all the world’s ice melted—an extreme eventuality that would require thousands of years—sea levels would rise an estimated 216 feet. Unsurprisingly, what we know as “coast” today would become “offshore.” In North America, the Atlantic seaboard is gone, as is Florida. In my novel (set in 2139), the Philly Bay is a thing, but that was based on a model of just 22 meters (72 feet) in sea levels rising. In Nat Geo‘s more extreme model, the Central Valley in California becomes a giant bay. San Diego goes bye, bye, as does a little town in Texas called “Houston.” Nat Geo has detailed maps of all the continents, including the desert formerly known as North Africa, the desert formerly known as Australia, and parts of China that are currently home to some 600 million people. As noted above, this map represents the ultimate extreme of global warming, including melted Antartica ice sheets that have survived previous warming periods. The point, though, is that it’s fascinating to see what it might look like.

Check It Out: What Earth Would Look Like if All the Ice Melted

23 Comments Add a comment

  1. juperl

    @Lancashire-Witch I was watching some of the confirmation hearings this past week. One Democrat Senator mentioned that 95% of scientists say smoking causes cancer while 97% say manmade climate change is real. The senator meant to say that scientists are even more sure about global warming. But my take is that the Senator inadvertently proved that the “97%” figure is bogus. No possible way there is greater consensus on global warming that cigarettes. You don’t have to be a butcher to smell bad meat. The context of statements also provide part of the picture we need to make our judgement.

  2. Lancashire-Witch

    @juperi.. interesting observations.

    A met a Russian guy once who always carried candles in his car. When I asked him why, he said if you drive a Russian built car in a Russian winter a candle could save your life – by keeping the interior of a snow covered car above freezing point.
    So -globally, are we just striking matches or lighting candles?

    I have a friend who is a professor of geological sciences at a university. He reminds me that the world has been much warmer before and we are in an inter-glacial period (geologically speaking). And – at the current rate of melting (about 90 billion tonnes/year) it would take 200,000 years for all the Antarctic ice to melt, during which time we can expect another ice age!
    I say – so climate change isn’t man made ; he says ‘I wouldn’t bet on it’.

    I also know a senior manager in an oil company who says ‘Green is almost always the most expensive option and very few of us are willing to pay for it’.

    So maybe the man-made contribution to global warming is as insignificant as striking a match – or maybe it isn’t .. But I wouldn’t bet on it. The stakes are too high.

  3. juperl

    Thanks @jerrydid . I have nothing to lose from the truth, and everything to gain. I only want the truth. I care deeply about the truth and will always follow where it leads.

    To provide some insight… I view climate change on its own, and within context. I have seen actual greenhouses. I can confirm from experience that they do raise the temperature inside. Same with a car on a hot day. If the windows are rolled up, the heat comes in the windows, but can’t get out. We all agree on the mechanism of how a greenhouse works.

    The scientific / evidential question is: what if someone lit a match in a parked car. If the weather was freezing, the match would not warm it up. If the weather was hot, the match would not add any significant heat. So, for manmade climate change people are asking: what is man’s contribution to the temperature of the earth?

    The above is the basic scientific and evidence question. But the big picture is that in America we have a small government party, and a big government party. It is the big government party which endorses global warming. The same big government party took over health care, often favors higher taxes, and has a record of being in favor of highly regulating businesses. For them, global warming provides justification for these policies to be expanded.

    In itself, that does not make global warming wrong, but when you see what global warming means for them as a justification of their policies, that matters to me. I have to ask if I think they are not being biased in their support of global warming.

    I also know that scientific measurements have holes in it, and those holes are filled up with averages and guessed data. In itself, this doesn’t make it wrong, but I have seen quite a few reports where it clearly shows the raw data verses the revised data. And the revision is where the temperature increase happens.

    I am a reasonable and rational man. I have a master’s degree in Philosophy and I make iOS apps for a living. My daughters are in 3rd and 4th grade and read at a high school level. None of this means I am perfect, or that the next guy isn’t smarter, but this is a meaningful issue to me. I have the intellectual tools to research, to monitor current events, and to weigh all of these things to form my conclusion.

    As you said, maybe we won’t convince each other to change our views here, but I thought you would be interested to know that the guy you’re talking to (me) might know a thing or two about a thing or two. And with all of that, my sense is that global warming will one day be looked back on like German racial science in WW2, or doctors recommending smoking thanks to big tobacco funded studies. Sometimes in the world, scientists are pressured and public perception is manipulated. I think we will look back on global warming as a political pressure movement.


  4. jerrydid

    I heard you out and I typed out a long response, but I’m not going to bother on second thought. We’ll never change each others opinions while commenting on a macobserver article. I’d only ask that you take some time to really read over the science, not just articles written about it, but the studies themselves. Take time to really comprehend it. I, likewise, will do my best to see things from your perspective if and when climate change is used by any political party.

  5. juperl

    And as for appeal to the “experts” do a Google search for cigarette ads featuring doctors. So many ads featuring actual doctors and experts talking about which cigarette is the healthiest.

    Also, big tobacco was sued and defeated because it was found they had spent decades getting junk science to be popularly accepted.

    Don’t deceive yourself into thinking scientists are anything more than people. As people they have prejuidices, mortgages to pay, reputations to protect, etc. And with all the pressure for global warming, it tilts the science. And the 97% of all scientists is bogus, especially since anti-global warming scientists can’t get funding, and they get fired.

  6. juperl

    Global warming basically goes right down party lines, with a few exceptions of course.

    Hear me out. Manmade climate change is used as the excuse to justify higher taxes, and decreased energy production. On top of this, it is used as an excuse for rich countries to pay money to poor countries (carbon credits.)

    And all of this for predictions which are set decades into the future. Meanwhile the climate also changes on its own all the time. Could even be that an ice age starts just as we warm up the climate (if we even did have that big of an effect on the climate, which we don’t.)

    I have read numerous reports of scientists who were fired or lost funding for opposing global warming. I also know the weather service can’t even accurately predict next week’s weather to the precise degree.

    The societal upheaval of all these taxes and social engineering, to ward off some speculated warming is not worth it. It’s a political pressure tactic and I will not submit myself to it. I am all for science. The problem is that manmade climate change alarmists are not being scientific. They appeal to a big number of experts – which is the least scientific way to prove a point.

  7. jerrydid

    @jackadoodle Not sure what your point is. Who’s talking about political parties? I’m a Republican, although I didn’t vote that way this year for the first time in 30 years. But I believe in climate change because I’ve read the science, contemplated it, and agreed that it is sound. Just like 97% of all climate scientists who encompass all religions, races, and political parties.

    If you don’t believe in climate change, that’s one thing. But don’t project your mentality onto a political party. You can’t hate a group for supporting something they believe in, just because you believe that deep down they think the same way you do and fake support for nefarious reasons.

  8. jackadoodle

    Only one party supports global warming because it’s a political tool to advance their goal of increased taxes and more government control.

  9. jerrydid

    Thank you for the post Bryan! It is nice to see a site like this post about the biggest environmental issue of our time. It is always disheartening to see comments from those like jackadoodle. We live in the age of information, the facts are quite literally at our finger tips, and yet many choose to be willfully ignorant. Quite a shame.

  10. jackadoodle

    I am a skeptical person (which is a very good scientific mindset.) What I know is that when manmade climate change is mentioned, the discussion immediately turns to suppressing energy development, and raising taxes, and rich nations sending money to poor nations.

    The people who say they “believe” in climate change, apply labels such as “deniers” to those who dispute climate change. I think they resort to name calling because they don’t have proof. When you call people names, it shows you are using bullying rather than logic to advance your cause.

    Ever notice how all global warming danger is in 50 or 100 years? But we’re supposed to pay all these taxes and stop all of this energy development today? Another clue that we’re dealing with a scam.

  11. MacFrogger

    Amen aardman, amen!

    Oh and one other point I wanted to make, but forgot, to the same commenters who added a criticism of Bryan for disturbing their climate-denying worldview by including this graphic on a Mac-centered blog:

    Regular readers know that Bryan’s “Cool Stuff Found” column sometimes deals with Mac-centered items but very often does not. Instead it’s often rather whimsical, featuring links to videos of incredible videos of cascading marbles that would make Rube Goldberg proud, and any other thing that Bryan deems a cool thing that he wants to share with others. End of story.

  12. aardman

    It’s scary to see science deniers at work. They will take their anecdotal evidence and deem it to be statistically more significant than years of carefully accumulated data. They will also stare the 97% consensus of climate scientists in the face and then make up all sorts of imagined conspiracies as to why these scientists are making things up. Scientists that, by the way, who represent all sorts of political beliefs including, yes, conservative beliefs.

    The sad thing is that these people decide on what to believe in based on what their political tribe tells them they should believe in. Global warming? We don’t believe in that because I would be siding with ‘liberals’ and going against my fellow conservatives.

    A lot of the areas that have seen spikes in measles are affluent communities who generally vote liberal. These are parents who have bought into the touch-feely pseudo-science of new age medicine. Just because they vote for the same candidates I vote for doesn’t stop me from declaring them to be idiots who are endangering their children’s and other children’s lives. We need the same intellectual honesty from the other side of the political fence, not this ‘well liberals are for it so I’m against it’.

  13. MacFrogger

    As a science geek, I will admit that it is true that global warming deniers have been ostracized from the rest of the scientific community. And why not? After all, we have also ostracized those who deny evolution from being respected members of the biology community and yes – brace yourself for this one – we also similarly treat those who still preach that the earth is flat. And of course you can still buy scientific opinions that will tell you that smoking isn’t a cause of cancer.

    Back to climate: for the deniers that want to keep their head in the sand, that’s actually great practice because your head will be in the sand as sea levels rise. On a more serious note, here’s a wonderful graphic that looks at the each of the factors involved in climate change separately and together – from Bloomberg!

  14. Lancashire-Witch

    Good stuff, geoduck. Thanks. I would just like to add that although the effect – if not the timescale – of rising sea-levels can be modeled pretty accurately, of equal concern is the effect on the world’s weather. It now looks likely that as some folks get wet feet others will experience extreme weather events – drought, extremes of temperature, storms and so on.

    Makes a change from the usual Apple stories, Bryan. 😉

  15. jackadoodle

    Thank you juperl. Yes, there are many accounts of people being fired, made fun of, or losing funding when they question global warming. There is a spirit of intimidation which is detracting from the science.

    And Scott721 is exactly right about this article being out of place. The moment I read the headline, I knew that the article was going to be a little piece of fear propaganda. Brian is a very cool dude. And I am sure he would say “don’t be silly. I didn’t write fear propaganda. This is just a neat little article filed under ‘cool stuff’ “. But then how come we both recognized that this article was out of place? Because we’re just being honest with ourselves.

  16. Scott Goldman

    Regardless of which side you fall on – believer or skeptic – the larger question is, “What the blazes is this article doing in MacObserver?” If I want political commentary or editorializing on world events or news there are plenty of other sources that are, dare I say, vastly more qualified than a MacObserver correspondent to expound on them.

    Please, folks, stick to the knitting here. Your expertise in Apple products and software is why I come (and imagine others do, too). Why would you even consider publishing an article like this?


  17. juperl

    Jackadoodle is right. I am also pushing 50 and I have been hearing about global warming since the 1980’s. My family also has a shore house right on the water and it’s still there, just like it has always been.

    I look at it this way: I have been in companies who want to sell a product to customers. In order to get the customers to spend money and take some kind of action, we had to justify it with data. It is very easy to selectively use data.

    There are numerous stories that if you are a scientist who does not profess manmade climate change you are ostracized. Do a Google search for Nasa scientist Professor Les Woodcock as one example. He is Emeritus Professor of Chemical Thermodynamics at the University of Manchester’s School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science. He said there was:

    ‘professional misconduct by Government advisors around the world’ when it comes to man-made climate change claims. ‘The theory of ‘man-made climate change’ is an unsubstantiated hypothesis’ — water is a much more powerful greenhouse gas and there is is 20 time more of it in our atmosphere (around one per cent of the atmosphere) whereas CO2 is only 0.04%’

    Another example is this article about Dr. Noel Metting who a congressional investigation determined was fired because she tried to preserve another program from having its funds diverted to global warming.

  18. geoduck

    I’m 56. When I studied Geology at the University of Oregon in the late ’70s and early ’80s we were talking about human impact on the climate. But back then we weren’t sure even what direction, warmer or colder we would push it. By the early ’90s when I was studying Palaeontology and Paleoclimates at the University of Minnesota we understood the direction but not the magnitude. By the late ’90s we were getting a good handle on the magnitude. By the early ’00s our models were nailing down how severe but it was becoming increasingly clear that all of our models were, if anything too conservative. Facts on the ground were moving even faster than expected. We now have data, solid factual data points, from everything from sediment cores, to ice cores, to tree ring data and more, going back over a million years. Intermittent data going back a billion. Models that use all of this data a billion times more advanced than the first ones. All of the models, the chemical, paleo, meteorological, physical, and geological data point in the same direction. To reject the fact that we are impacting, changing, the climate for the worse is to ignore reality. You might as well deny gravity.

    Human caused climate change is a fact. The hope of limiting to 1.5 degrees is a pipe dream. 2 degrees is almost certainly going to be exceeded as well. The likelihood is that we will hit at least 4 degrees. The map shown above is a bit more than we will see in our lifetimes, but over the next couple of hundred years it’s likely not far off.

    So jackadoodle, the scientific data, from tens of thousands of scientists, from dozens of disciples, spanning decades are facts on the ground. Insistence on the belief that human induced climate change is not true is the result of political influence.

    Human induced climate change is a fact.

  19. jackadoodle

    I’m 35 yrs old. The same New Jersey beaches I went to as a kid are all still there. My family’s beach house has the same bulkhead it always did, and the water level comes to the same height as always.

    If it ever did change, I’m fine with that too. After all there used to be Pangea and that broke up into the continents. And during ice ages the sea level also changed.

    And none of that was caused by human activity. Manmade climate change is about power and money. Taxes, regulations, a “mandate” to not build factories, to not drill resources, for advanced countries to pay money to less advanced countries. But the human effect on the climate is not enough to cause any significant harm or benefit.

  20. palmac

    Jackadoodle, the rise in sea temperatures is not “micro” and it is significant. Ocean levels have been rising for the past decade right in line with the warming of the planet. If you continue to deny climate change then put your money where your ill-informed mouth is and buy beachfront property in Florida. If you’re right you’ll have a nice winter retreat. If 97.8% of all scientists worldwide (who live under a wide range of politics and cultures) are right, you’ll have to learn to scuba dive to visit your property. I put my money on the overwhelming scientific consensus.

  21. Christian_TTV

    Jackadoodle – what you fail to realize is that climate change denial is to a much higher degree a result of political influence on science than the idea of man-made climate change itself. Besides, the question is irrelevant. If there is anything we can do to at least partially prevent the potentially disastrous effects of climate change, then we are morally obliged to do it.

  22. jackadoodle

    If 20 million people went swimming in the pacific ocean, their body heat would affect the temperature of the ocean on some micro level. But not enough to make any meaningful difference.

    Likewise, there is a small effect from human activity on the climate, but not anything which is significant. During World War 2, all the scientists in Germany supported faulty racial science ideas. Science was commandeered by political pressure. We are going to look back on manmade climate change in a similar way.

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