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Rising seas lap at SA's future

10 November 2015 - 02:02 By Shaun Smillie

Global landmarks will be swallowed up by the sea and as many as 600 million people will be displaced as the waters rise - and now we can see what this devastation will look like. In a series of paired images created by research group Climate Central, we are given a foretaste of the havoc rising seas, caused by global warming, are likely to have on coastal cities across the world.In London, the Thames will lap at the foot of Big Ben.If average temperatures increase by 4C above current levels the only way to travel down Wall Street in New York City will be by boat.South Africa will not be spared.Climate Central's art includes an impression of Durban City Hall derelict and with its halls flooded after a 4C increase in average temperature.A 2C increase would leave Durban's Pixley kaSeme Street submerged.Climate Central's interactive maps reveal the devastation likely to befall South Africa.In a post-4C world, Durban's Stanley Road would be the new waterfront.In the Cape Town of the future, Marine Road would be out to sea.An increase in average temperature of this magnitude represents an extreme in the predictions but, according to scientists, this is what humanity could be heading for in the next 200 years.Later this month the 195-nation UN climate summit will convene in Paris. The goal will be to reach an agreement to cap the rise in Earth's average temperatures to 2C above preindustrial levels.The only way this can be done is by cutting the output of greenhouse gases.But in a world in which a 4C spike has melted the ice caps, the biggest loser would be Asia.Four of the 10 megacities devastated by flooding, home to 145million people, will be in China.Japan, Bangladesh and Vietnam will also be hit.Climate Control found that sea levels would rise 4.7m with a 2C increase - almost double that if the increase were by 4C.According to the researchers, mankind is already in the grip of global warming, with sea levels having risen by 20cm since 1880.This rate, they say, will accelerate.Climate Control estimates that a 2C increase in the Earth's temperature would submerge land now occupied by 280million people.Sea levels after a 4C increase would threaten 600million people.Climate Central says its research is based on models that take into account the melting of glaciers and the decay of the Greenland and west Antarctic ice sheets...

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