(Photo: Nickolay Lamm / Storagefront.com via Mashable)
A handful of Hollywood action films.
These were the only images artist Nickolay Lamm could think of that envisioned a future where rising sea levels would swamp and swarm the coastlines of America.
So, fed up with Tinseltown’s CGI portrayal, the 24-year-old took our watery future into his own creative hands, designing sea-level rise maps of what U.S. cities might look like in the coming decades as global warming continues to melt the polar ice caps.
Lamm’s project began in February, when he contacted Remik Ziemlinksi from Climate Central, who, in November 2012, had helped The New York Times create interactive maps for a series on sea-level rising, What Could Disappear.
Lamm then chose different U.S. landmarks to illustrate the potential floods and found stock photos of the landmarks (he initially wanted to use screenshots of Apple 3D Maps but couldn't get permission from Apple to use them). He decided to use the same levels the Times had. To "figure out the depth of flooding for each sea level rise," he used Google Earth and topography maps.
From there, Lamm used Photoshop to finish the photos. Last week, Mashable took Lamm’s maps and created a series of highly engaging GIFS.
Yes, the GIFS are a sad, scary reminder of the wet cancer that our carbon-addicted lifestyles will unleash on a future Earth.
But just how realistic are they?
Since 1900, average sea levels have risen by up to eight inches, and according to estimates by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, they will keep rising between eight inches and 6.6 feet by 2100.
In January, one of the world’s foremost authorities on all things ice, glaciologist Jason Box, told Mother Jones that if Greenland melts, all bets are off.
"Those who claim it's all cycles just don't understand that humans are driving the cycle right now, and for the foreseeable future," Box says. And the coastal consequences of allowing Greenland to continue it’s melting—and pour 23 feet's worth of sea level into the ocean over the coming centuries—are just staggering. "If you're the mayor of Hamburg, or Shanghai, or Philadelphia, I think it's in your job description that you think forward a century," says Box. "They're completely inundated by the year 2200."
"I want people to look at these images and understand that the places they value most may very well be lost to future generations if climate change isn't a bigger priority on our minds," Lamm told Business Insider. "These illustrations are not based off wild Hollywood scenarios, but sea level rise maps from Climate Central."
Head on over to Mashable for all eight of Lamm's GIFs.