I was married in 1958 to a lovely Camden lady; although I was from “away,” we have been back almost every year. Over those years it is difficult for me to describe change although my wife recalls the beach being larger suggesting some sea level rising. Camden is fortunate to have a high elevation so close to the sea. We now live on the coast in Florida where the elevation is quite different, but people are still buying waterfront property.

Sea level rise has averaged between 0.10 inch and 0.11 inch per year, plus or minus 0.016 inch since 1993 and has accelerated in recent years. For the broader period between 1870 and 2004, global average sea levels are estimated to have risen a total of 7.7 inch, or 0.067 inch, plus or minus 0.012 inch per year.

According to one study of measurements available from 1950 to 2009, these measurements show an average annual rise in sea level of 0.067 inch, plus or minus 0.012 inch per year during this period, with satellite data showing a rise of 0.13 inch, plus or minus 0.016 inch per year from 1993 to 2009. Sea level rise is one of several lines of evidence that support the view that the global climate has recently warmed. In 2014 the USGCRP National Climate Assessment projected that by the year 2100, the average sea level rise will have been between one and four feet since the date of the 2014 assessment. Current rates of sea level rise have roughly doubled since the pre-1992 rates of sea level rise of the 20th century.

In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that it is most likely human-induced warming contributed to the sea level rise observed in the latter half of the 20th century. The 2013 IPCC report (AR5) concluded, “there is high confidence that the rate of sea level rise has increased during the last two centuries, and it is likely that GMSL (Global Mean Sea Level) has accelerated since the early 1900’s.”

From these numbers there is reason to be concerned. Let’s look at what we know to be fact. 100,000 years ago, sea level was 25 feet higher than today. 15,000 years ago, the ice age lowered the sea level to at least 400 feet below today’s level. The ice began receding with a relatively rapid rise in sea level and by 10,000 years ago the sea level rose to 150 feet lower than it is today. From where I now live, the Gulf coast was then 80 miles further west. The rapid rise continued until 6,000 years ago a plateau was reached. However, the past 100 years have witnessed an increase in the rise of the plateau and there is good scientific evidence that it is due to a rise in temperature and the trapping such as CO2 and methane.

This empirical science proves that the sea level rose 25 feet higher than today, which is fact, and suggests it could happen again. Scientific studies and modeling support the suggestion that man’s action contributes to another rapid rise. It is for that scientific reasoning that I agree “Everything possible should be done to reduce production of all pollution by all contributors.”

The problem is that it is not enough for science to forecast the danger without science offering the solution. Unlike 100,000 thousand years ago we are totally dependent on energy. If nations don’t have a binding agreement to produce clean energy reached by practical science, we will have to accept the results. This becomes more difficult when we don’t want to use nuclear energy or will not allow Canadian hydroelectric power to cut a path to Massachusetts or to place wind turbines on the top of the scenic mountains or, in Massachusetts, a prominent family blocked wind turbines off the coast of Hyannis port.

With incremental changes of an eighth of an inch, we are not going to experience a sea level rise of several feet for many years to come. We must balance what we expect people to do today, in order to theoretically accommodate tomorrow.

COL (Ret) Ted Raia MD, USA