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Ralph Lemuel Lopez Santos

Writing 39C



Earth to Atlantis: Global Warming and The Rise of Sea Levels

Global warming, the slow apocalypse to some, but a hoax to others. Despite the

controversy surrounding this topic, research efforts from people all over the world hint an

apocalyptic future in coastal regions due to the increasing trend in the rate of sea levels rising

caused by global warming. Dean Hardy and Bryan Nuse from the University of Georgia wrote an

article that talks about ocean thermal expansion, melting mountain glaciers and ice caps, and

melting of the Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheets showing how these three concepts prove the

strong relationship between global temperature and global sea level. (334). The alarming

increase in global sea levels can leave islands under water and coastal cities severely flooded in

the United States leading to lost lives and resources. The costs to address the rise in sea levels

should not serve as a barrier for politicians to start projects that can save millions of lives.

Graph showing an increasing rate of change of global sea levels (in mm) compared to the 1993-

2008 average. Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

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In the past, global warming was not a topic of interest, but as more projections regarding

the issue reveal shocking results, climate change has caught the attention of influential countries.

Scholars like Michael Oppenheimer of the John Hopkins University Press claims that the earth

has warmed over 0.8C (about 1.5F) since the late nineteenth century, and warns that this is

just the beginning of a much larger warming (675). Research and statistical analysis use

historical evidence to show that global sea level has been changing for centuries. However, the

rate of change in sea levels has reached alarming levels, and if the trend continues, the rate of

change of our global sea levels will reach rates that will be detrimental to coastal regions and

islands off the U.S. coast. Scientists and researchers worldwide continue to provide concerning

evidence proving that global warming is valid and should be addressed.

Observed sea

levels due to

thermal expansion

and melted water.

Source: National

Oceanic and



Simply put, the rise in sea levels is a side effect from the more significant issue of climate

change. According to Oppenheimers article and others, the sudden growth of the rate of sea

level rise should be attributed to the concept of ocean thermal expansion, the melting of

mountain glaciers, and major ice sheets in Greenland and the Antarctic melting. Ocean thermal
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expansion is when a warmer ocean leads to a change in volume resulting in the need for more

space. Global warming has made our oceans hotter making it expand. The melting dilemma of

glaciers and ice sheets are caused by the warmer weather in those areas adding more water to our

oceans. Statistics in the article by Rebecca Lindsey of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric

Association, show the vast contributions by thermal expansion and melting to the rise in our

global sea levels. Overall, global warming is the root cause of the issue regarding sea levels and

must be addressed to make substantial progress to decelerate the trend.

Despite the influx of available information to the public, the move to reverse this trend

has been delayed due to the high costs of proposed projects. To make matters worse, the

opposing views of political figures in the United States regarding this issue lead to constant

bickering rather than action which can protect precious resources for America. Ultimately, the

positive trend shown in the rate of change in global sea levels prompt a dilemma that can cripple

coastal regions where almost 40% of the [U.S.] population lives and where 8 of the worlds

10 largest cities (Lindsey) are located. Therefore, solutions must be implemented as soon as

possible to ensure the stability of these regions.

The projected cost of real estate damages as sea levels continue to rise. Source: The Cost of

Climate Change by the National Resources Defense Council.

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Economically, there has been a series of proposed solutions with hefty price tags that

have left politicians reluctant in fulfilling these solutions to deal with the rise in sea level. The

lack of funding has led government officials to minimize spending on global warming projects.

A National Resources Defense Council article by authors from Tufts University, Cambridge

University, and Synapse Energy Economics exhibiting the economic conflict around climate

change. The NRDC scholars cover ways to reduce the risk of flooding in coastal regions like

Elevating homes and other structures or [building] seawalls to hold back rising waters (8).

However, the article points out how elevating homes and seawalls can be problematic and

expensive. (8) As a reference, raising a house can cost about $58 per square foot [which]

means that it would cost $58,000 to elevate a 1,000-square-foot footprint by two feet (8).

Moreover, seawalls can cost $2 to $20 million per linear mile. (8) Based on this, elevating

thousands of infrastructure along the U.S. coastlines and building coastal sea walls can cost

billions of dollars to the government and can disrupt the people around the coastal regions.

While the solutions to sea level rise have proven to be costly, not addressing the issue

will lead to a heavier price tag. The previously mentioned NRDC article also covers the huge

dent global warming can cause to the United States economy if left unchecked. Following the

rise of sea level, the article concludes that real-estate damages alone can cost 360 billion dollars

(7) by the year 2100 with the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts being affected the most. The article also

mentions the effects of warmer sea temperatures and higher levels resulting in more damaging

natural disasters. Hurricanes alone will cost $422 billion (5) per year by the year 2100. Overall,

economic dilemmas play a huge role in the United States governments motivation to solve the

problem at hand. It is evident that the cost to fulfill these projects outweigh the potential
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damages sea level rise can cause the U.S. economy which can reach three-quarters of a trillion

dollars caused only by real-estate and hurricane damages.

Monitoring and maintaining sea levels is an important task for the United States and

countries who have coastal borders inhabited by people, infrastructure, and other resources due

to the consequences it can bring. Lindseys article warns about the potential danger of rising sea

levels to the infrastructure [at the urban coastlines in the United States] necessary for local jobs

and regional industries. (Lindsey) Furthermore, Lindsey sums up the fate of coastal ecosystems

as global warming and the rise of the global sea level proceeds:

In the natural world, rising sea level creates stress on coastal ecosystems that provide

recreation, protection from storms, and habitat for fish and wildlife, including

commercially valuable fisheries. (Lindsey)

If the rise in sea level gets to the point where coastal regions become severely flooded, buildings

and homes must be evacuated due to their structure not able to withstand severe underwater

conditions. In urbanized coastal cities, this dilemma can cause a halt in jobs and tourism.

Flooded infrastructure will be useless in these conditions leading to a devastating economic dent

for the country. On the other hand, rural coastal regions and islands can suffer a loss in

environmental resources in addition to infrastructure. The island state of Hawaii is a great

example showing what is at stake if the rise in global sea level continues. According to the

United States Environmental Protection Agency, "sea level rise can make Hawaiis existing

coastal hazardssuch as waves, hurricanes, tsunamis, and extreme tideseven worse. (EPA)

The horrific chain reaction the sea level rise trend generates for the United States should be

addressed and not ignored.

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Moreover, articles from major cities and states like San Francisco and Florida project

potential outcomes caused by sea level rise. Senior counsel Richard Jacobs and attorney Steven

Hogans article Will Our Future Drown? Paying for the Costs of Sea-Level Rise describes the

dilemma around the state of Florida as sea levels rise. The Florida authors talk about the

dangerous assumption that the coast will remain where it is (52). As mentioned, Jacobs and

Hogan highlight the economic hardships to deal with the problem. They stress the importance of

collaboration of Florida as a state to aid coastal regions and not leaving these parts to go [at] it

alone although addressing these issues will be expensive (53). Florida and other coastal states

are in jeopardy of losing a good portion of its land if the projections become a reality. On the

other coast, scholars from Pennsylvania State University and Carnegie Mellon University

researched the San Francisco Bay analyzing future flood risks as the sea levels rise. As a whole,

the study discovered that sea-level rise can increase the [San Francisco Bay] area risk of

flooding and can increase the probability of flood occurrence. (11). The rise in sea level does

not play favorites on who it can affect, and this study showed just that. The busy and diverse

streets at the San Francisco Bay can have an up-close personal taste of the Pacific Ocean if the

sea levels continue to go up. Knowing the high cost of living and population density in San

Francisco, probable floods can cost the city millions, if not billions, of dollars in damages, and

millions of people affected. Ultimately, the rise in sea levels is a serious issue for people in the

United States, and it will take a collective effort to slow down the sneaky beast.

Finally, global warming and the rise of sea level is a topic that interests me due to its

comprehensive scale. Regardless of the lack of movement at the political level on this issue, we

continue to see countless contributions from citizens all over the world. Even though each of

these contributions is small, the unity of citizens throughout the world has proved to be
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significant in the war against global warming. In a country as influential as the United States, our

duty as citizens is to continue with these contributions while taking advantage of our democratic

nation making government officials feel the sense of urgency to reverse the trend.

In conclusion, the rise in sea levels and global warming has caught the attention of

citizens as research on the issue continues to be published. Scholars continue to prove the

severity of the problem, and how urgent the world needs to react. From severe flooding in coastal

cities to islands drowning, the alarming rise in the global sea levels put millions of lives and

resources in danger. As for the United States, political and economic conflicts continue, and

several projects about sea level rise and global warming remain shelved. Despite this, several

Americans have provided countless contributions like recycling that has helped with global

warming. We should continue to contribute and spread awareness to participate protecting our

only inhabitable planet. These actions go beyond the United States helping our present and our

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Works Cited

Ackerman, Frank, et al. What Well Pay If Global Warming Continues Unchecked. The Cost

of Climate Change, 21 May 2008, pp. 129.,

The given source written by multiple scholars provided my essay with several facts

regarding the costs surrounding the rise of sea levels and much more. This source covers the

economics of many problems surrounding climate change specifically in the United States. The

authors of this article cover a chapter showing the Real Estate Losses as Result of Sea-Level

Rise (7). This chapter was the most useful for me for it showed projected prices to pay towards

real estate damage if the rise in sea level remained unsolved. Along with the numbers, Ackerman

and the other authors provided me information regarding potential solutions to address the rise in

sea levels.

Hardy, R. D., and Bryan L. Nuse. "Global Sea-Level Rise: Weighing Country Responsibility and

Risk." Climatic Change, vol. 137, no. 3-4, 2016, pp. 333-345, Agricultural &

Environmental Science Database,

Hardy and Nuses source provided me information regarding multiple countries and how

the rise of sea level affects them. This article was written to show its readers how the several

major countries cause the continuous rise in sea levels, and how these can potentially lead to a

huge loss for other nations. The article is filled with data and statistics the shows the trend

regarding the global rise and sea levels and it concludes that the countries who contribute the

most towards climate change will be affected the most by the sea level rise. However, the scale

of the problem is too big for other nations to be not affected.

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Jacobs, Richard O. and Steven M. Hogan. "Will Our Future Drown? Paying for the Costs of Sea-

Level Rise." Florida Bar Journal, vol. 91, no. 7, Jul/Aug2017, pp. 52-55. EBSCOhost,


Jacobs and Hogans gave me a brief article focusing specifically on the causes and effects

of the rise in sea levels in the state of Florida. Their article provided the potential impacts of the

rise in sea levels if the trends continue as well as solutions to help aid the coastal regions of

Florida for a better future.

Lindsey, Rebecca. Climate Change:Global Sea Level. NOAA, National Oceanic

and Atmospheric Association, 11 Sept. 2017,


The brief article by Lindsey for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association

shows the past, present, and inevitable future of global sea levels. In the article, Lindsey provides

readers with graphs and other visuals to prove the point that sea levels are in fact rising at an

alarming rate. This article provided me with the information and multimodal sources to include

in my essay.

Oppenheimer, Michael. "Adapting to Climate Change: Rising Sea Levels, Limiting Risks."

Social Research, vol. 82, no. 3, Fall2015, pp. 673-680. EBSCOhost,

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As the sources have done, Oppenheimers article provided me a different point of view

regarding the rise in global sea level. The article offers proven facts regarding the specific

measurements in millimeters of the historical increase in sea level. What separates Oppenheimer

from the other articles is the way he presents to his readers the horrid conditions that come with

this issue. He uses past U.S. disasters to relate it to climate change and imposes a sense of

urgency to his readers to fix the problem. What I picked up from this article are the leading

causes of sea level rise like the melting of ice sheets and mountain glaciers to add more water to

the ocean and ocean thermal expansion leading to the need for more space for the ocean due to

the hotter weather statistics claim Earth currently has.

Ruckert, Kelsey L., et al. "Impacts of Representing Sea-Level Rise Uncertainty on Future Flood

Risks: An Example from San Francisco Bay." Plos ONE, vol. 12, no. 3, 28 Mar. 2017,

pp. 1-17. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0174666.

This report by several scholars from Carnegie Mellon and Pennsylvania State University

provides an analysis regarding the rise in sea levels and its potential effects of flooding in the

San Francisco Bay. It offered me a scholarly report on a possible dilemma in a famous city in our

very own state. I chose to include this in my essay to show that a place with such a high cost of

living and several expensive infrastructures is not safe from this issue. This report was mostly

used to exhibit the severity of the sea level issue, and that no coastal regions are secure if nothing

is done.

What Climate Change Means for Hawaii. United States Environmental Protection Agency,
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I used this brief report by the EPA to prove a point surrounding the dangers of the rising

sea level to the beloved island of Hawaii. This EPA report also showed information that majority

of my sources for this paper have confirmed. This report was mostly used to appeal to my

audience by showing a well populated and visited state/island like Hawaii can be affected if this

trend continues.
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Writing for our HCP paper has been a great learning experience. This is the first time I

have heavily relied on scholarly articles for an essay. Before the HCP, the sources that I used to

build essays come from a huge list of articles coming from what I believed to be credible

sources. Finding scholarly articles with huge amounts of information available for me to use for

my paper surprised me. This experience will be a useful skill that I can use in the future for

looking for better sources to use.

For my rough draft, I used the steps I have used in creating huge essays since high

school. It starts with brainstorming for what my topic of interest. When discussions in class

about the environment came up, global warming came to my mind due to the current controversy

surrounding it politically and socially. Next, I tried structuring my essay by listing topics

paragraphs can cover to make sure there is something to talk about on the topic I came up with.

After I structured my paper, I started the research process. The database given on the UCI library

website was handy and helped me find the right sources for my paper. The most frustrating part

of researching was finding multiple sources that talk about the same thing. The feature in using

keywords in the data base was helpful in making me find sources that serves a different purpose

for my HCP.

The revision process came right after completing my rough draft, and this is where the

learning happens. Thanks to peer review and the teacher conference, I was able to read my paper

in a different way leading to major revisions. Revision is not the most fun process, but it is when

I learn the most about my paper since looking at other HCPs helped me read my own differently.

Also, the revision techniques shown in class gave me the tools I needed to revise my HCP. In my

opinion, the most effective tool I used from the revision techniques is the reverse outline. This
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technique helped me restructure my HCP and improve its flow while keeping the message I was

trying to convey to my readers. All in all, my revision process consisted of several procedures

that sharpened my skills in creating effective papers that can improve my future written pieces.

To conclude, as I continued to refine and revise my HCP, I thought about what I want to

talk about in my Advocacy Project. Understanding the connection between the HCP and AP

made me revise my HCP to set it up as an introduction to my AP paper. Writing the HCP was

not an easy task, but it has introduced me to things that can be beneficial for my writing skills.

From research to revision techniques, the steps that led to my completed HCP has strengthened

my writing skills. Ultimately, I am looking forward to writing the AP paper using the skills I

acquired writing my HCP.