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“The future… The polar ice caps have melted… Those who have survived have adapted to a new world…”

This is the opening narration to the 1995 action flick Waterworld, starring Kevin Costner and Dennis Hopper. The film details a world where dry land has become nothing more than a myth; something that once existed, but now lies vanished and solitary beneath the waves due to the mistakes made by the “elders.”

The elders the film refers to are us… The present population that paves the way for those to come, but the planet is not surviving the way it should. Waterworld is often considered an enigma in the film environment. Critical and audience reception was mixed when it first hit theaters. Viewers scoffed at the potential reality presented by the story’s fantastical plotline. The film’s trivia page on IMDB actually details the results of a world with melted ice caps and a non-existent arctic (the oceans would only rise a few hundred feet), but as time goes by, the movie doesn’t seem as fantastical as originally thought.

A recent study led by James Hansen estimates that the globe can expect as much as 10 feet of sea level rise in just 50 years. (Photo Credit: joiseyshowaa / Flickr)

A recent study led by James Hansen estimates that the globe can expect as much as 10 feet of sea level rise in just 50 years. (Photo Credit: joiseyshowaa / Flickr)

The Earth’s axis is dramatically shifting, and it isn’t because the planet is taking dance lessons or because it’s feeling cold and wants to be closer to the sun. Melting ice sheets and a lack of natural water sources caused by severe weather changes are altering the planet as we know it, and the end result isn’t likely to be positive. So far, we’ve experienced rising sea levels, hotter temperatures and harsh weather conditions, but could things possibly get even worse from here on out?

Since the year 2000, the North Pole has been shifting east. Once heading along the upper Canadian banks, a 75-degree turn has occurred to cause the axis to shift closer towards the United Kingdom, placing it along the Earth’s central line. The reason has to do with the Earth’s shifting water content; not only is water flowing away from the Greenland ice sheet (as it melts at a prodigious rate), water is also disappearing from Eurasia, largely within India and the Caspian Sea area.

As droughts become more severe and aquifers continue to lose their water, the pole’s shift will continue. Humans have always had a massive impact on the world they live in, but now that impact is taking a whole new turn.

Hurricane Sandy floods Casino Pier in Seaside Heights in Ocean County, New Jersey. (Photo Credit: Creative Commons)

Hurricane Sandy floods Casino Pier in Seaside Heights in Ocean County, New Jersey. (Photo Credit: Creative Commons)

Those behind the discovery are explaining that the shift is small and there’s no need for panic just yet, but it’s hard to predict what may occur in 100, 150 or 200 years from now. As generations continue to expand and the world’s population continues on its present growth rate (we’re expected to reach nearly 10 billion people by the year 2050), how much more is our planet expected to sustain?

We have been given the options necessary to transform our ways; wind and solar power are proving to be as useful as fossil fuels in many situations, but a gift cannot be put to good use if we are not willing to accept it, and like in Waterworld, those destined to take our places later down the line are sure to suffer the consequences of our actions.

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