Some of the most productive land on earth is contained in river deltas and they all will be lost in the next few decades as oceans rise everywhere. For a preview of what delta loss will look like, look no farther than the Nile delta. Because of the Aswan High Dam, less silt is being deposited throughout the Nile valley. And that is most obvious in the Nile delta where seawater encroaches on productive farm land and renders it unusable before it erodes into the sea.
Under a Green Sky, Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past, and What They Can Tell Us about Our Future by Peter D. Ward published in 2007. Climate varies in regular cycles of varying lengths. We live now at the end of a time of stability that is relatively rare. Humanity has flourished in a long period of the stability of what we consider to be normal climate, but in fact is very rare. Adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere as we are will accelerate change and return us to a climate that varies markedly. In the future, coastlines will be different, crops will suffer, and many millions will die from starvation and/or war. I recommend this book.
New York, 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson. One writer’s vision of the world in 2140 when the oceans have risen 50 feet. New York City is a new Venice while Venice, Italy, presumably is totally underwater. The Greenland icecap lasted longer than expected because the underlying geography is a bowl surrounded by mountains. On the other hand, Antarctica slopes down to the seas around it. Once the ice there started to move, it moved relatively rapidly. Rising seas forced millions to relocate inland if they could. Globalization was disrupted as the world’s harbors were rebuilt and then rebuilt again to service container ships and oil tankers.
Robinson extrapolates today’s financial cycles into the future and the rich are richer and the poor and displaced struggle to survive. Finally after a severe hurricane devastates lower New York, the poor declare a rent strike to topple the status quo. This time the Federal Reserve does not bail out the banks; it nationalizes them, putting the people in charge for a change.
Why are glaciers important? They are not just massive flows of ice and snow that scour the landscape and drop dirt and rocks as they melt. They are an important store of water that falls as snow. As the ice and snow melt in the summer, they feed streams that supply water for drinking and irrigation. If water is not stored in glaciers in winter, then rivers and streams supply less or no water in the summer growing season, thus lessening crop yields. Glaciers are essential for the growth of food in many parts of the world.
Climate Wars, The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats by Gwynne Dyer published in 2010. Because of climate change and global warming, we are concerned about more and stronger storms, and rising oceans. In the future, we should also be concerned about expanding deserts and shrinking supplies of food. Before they allow their populations to starve, governments will make war on each other to access the shrinking supplies of food. Thus starving to death is the ultimate danger of climate change. In addition, some scientists believe that the atmosphere will contain less oxygen making it harder to breathe.