Good news: The chances of your home becoming beachfront property in the next 80 years may have just gone up 200%! That's also the bad news.
A renowned team of climatologists just published a new study about sea level rise in the science journal Nature. By factoring in the frightening increase in the rate of melting ice from Antarctica and Greenland, they calculated a global sea level rise of more than six feet by the end of the century — more than twice as much as previously predicted.
Basically, that awful thing that we already knew was coming? It's probably going to be even worse than we thought.
We're already feeling the undeniable effects of climate change. At this point, it's still mild enough for most of us (in the U.S., anyway) that we're willing to chalk it up to random weird weather flukes, rather than the warning signs of an impending disaster.
And based on earlier climate models, it looked like we were still two generations away from the "real damage." But according to this latest study, children who are living today will live to see some pretty catastrophic changes.
If you're a climate scientist — or a writer who pays attention to these things — you're probably freaking out right now.
But if you're having trouble trying to fathom what six feet of sea level rise actually means for your life, or the lives of your children and grandchildren, please allow me demonstrate what six feet of water by the year 2100 means for some major American regions.
In Seattle, for example, it won't just be the rain that makes it wet...
And the Bay Area will be a lot more "Bay" than "Area."
"Los Angeles 2100" both sounds and looks like a big budget disaster movie.
On the plus side, coastal Texas will be too busy fighting floods to worry about oil spills in the Gulf.
And if you thought the hurricanes and floods that have been ravaging southern Louisiana were bad before, just wait.
Do you think the phrase "climate change" will still be banned when Miami looks like this?
Of course, the coast of North Carolina won't look so pretty either.
As for the New York metro area? It'll be less "Empire State of Mind" and more "Waterworld."
Boston's going back to the bay, and taking MIT and Harvard with it.
As for those of you who live inland? Your hometown might not look so bad in 80 years. But that doesn't mean that everything is hunky-dory either.
Think about what happens to our national economy when all of the coastal land has been destroyed and people start to flock en masse to landlocked states. After all, that's basically what happened in Syria.
So while you lovely Nebraskans might be safe from flooding for the time being, it won't protect you from rising temperatures, agricultural bedlam, ravenous mosquito hordes, vicious winds, or the general calamity caused by mass migration.
As for why the prediction changed, the simple truth is there are a lot of factors involved in ecological disaster — all of which work together like a "Mad Max"-style domino chain.
Even if some of these climate models have changed over time — and if the predictions haven't been 100% accurate — it's not because climate change isn't real. It's because it's hard to figure out every detail of how it'll affect the world.
But hopefully, the thought that our children — not some distant future generation, but our actual children — are almost certainly going to suffer from our environmental hubris will be enough to motivate more people into taking action to cut our carbon emissions and stop this post-apocalyptic future before it happens.
Which, again, is much sooner than you think.