Are lessons Too Late For The Learning?
Late up again, this morning.
I open the curtains to let in the new daylight.
Just over the road, I see a well-ordered, socially distanced, queue of masked parents, each with a toddler or two, waiting for school to begin.
Those youngsters, at the start of their schooling today, are destined to be the senior celebrants at the turn of 2100. Will they be anticipating the good life in the 22nd century? Or will they be cursing their forebears of the 21st?
Researchers have just revised how we predict sea-level rise. They’ve concluded that there’ll be a lot less of this planet for those children to live on.
How can these researchers be so very certain? They’re not — but they have carefully reasoned that the current method for estimating sea-level rise is flawed. Should we panic? A good question. Certainly, we have time to adapt — not enough to develop webbed feet but probably enough to build new houses on stilts and design electric water taxis. But do we have time to prevent disaster? We’re already too late for lands and homes lost, but part of the fresh forecast shakes us from dull complacency — or should do.
Physicist Niels Bohr (allegedly): “It’s hard to make predictions. Especially about the future.”
The research just published in the Ocean Science journal (European Geosciences Union) questions the previous method of forecasting sea-levels. Put simply, the fresh thinking looks at the rate of change in sea levels (not the sea level itself) and how that relates to surface temperature. This more-sensitive measure also better reflects the melting of glaciers and seawater expansion as average temperatures rise inside the green-house we call our home — planet Earth.
The children starting school this morning will one day learn the maths. Maybe they’ll have good reason to thank the early 21st century researchers for their work — but only if we now do all we can to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Standing patiently in the school queue, their parents and carers have now learned to wear masks for this Covid crisis. Is coastal flooding the last thing on their minds?