earlier this morning i emailed to select friends a series of links that graphically illustrate the consequences of a global warming-induced rise in sea level. the first was to the astronomy picture of the day, showing one of antartica's ice shelves as it was fifteen years ago. today much of it has melted away, adding to the water in the world ocean. (note: if you go to this site later than today, you can access the photo by clicking on the "calender" link.)
the second link was a very graphic map, showing the coastal and inland areas that will be under water at various stages of ocean rise. many of the world's major cities would become submerged.
the third link was to a fairly decent wikipedia article, describing historic changes in sea level, and factors (in addition to antarctic ice melt) that contribute to the current rise.
in geologic terms, of course, this is nothing new. between ice ages, sea level has been high enough to form a north american inland sea, centered on the lower mississippi valley. what sets this rise apart is its human-induced rapidity -- a geometric progression similar to that of other calamities (the extinction of large numbers of species, the disappearance of entire ecosystems, the alteration of the world's weather) set in sudden motion by the cancerous growth of human populations.
personally, i think it's time we STOPPED HAVING BABIES for a while, say, twenty years. that would be a small start. ideally (in my estimation) the planet has a sustainable carrying capacity for roughly one-tenth of our current 6 billion souls. mass genocide is out of the question, although unintended plague and famine are not. we passed the threshold for taking true healing action half a century ago, and for many plant and animal species it is too late. it may be too late now -- global processes are of such massive scale that they require decades, if not centuries, to reverse.
but considering that we are rapidly turning our garden planet into a sewer, we can only in good conscience begin now. and anyone who isn't part of the solution, is part of the problem. octomom, take note.