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Immersion / Sea level rise, New-York

Today I decided to take the opposite of what is usually done on social networks, where we are accustomed to zapping at will, by publishing animations a contrario longer and more immersive. These sequences, which will stage as many possible futures of our world, will last several minutes and will invite us to stop and think about a landscape that does not exist yet, but could become reality in a few decades or centuries.

For a long time, I have been discussing with some youtubers friends the idea of developing a channel around the visual contents I produce in the framework of my foresight activities, in order to push further the reflection on the world and its future. All the animations that will be published will draw possible or probable futures adapted from scenarios imagined for the documentary photo book "Hopes". Some of them will refer to threats that we are facing, others, on the contrary, to much more positive visions; because it is as important to put in images the threats as the solutions that exist to limit their impact or to adapt to these imbalances that we have put in place.

For the first video of this playlist, I wanted to publish this vision of the Statue of Liberty in ruins, the waves reaching its chest, following the rise of the waters of the globe.

Many of my works are about rising waters, and more than ever, these images are likely to become reality, as the phenomenon of melting ice is getting out of control. A phenomenon to which my explorer friend Jean Lemire had made me aware in 2007, he who had explored these polar coasts on board his ship Sedna.

The Russian-Ukrainian conflict that worries us all unfortunately has the perverse effect of stifling a number of extremely worrying events that continue to affect our planet. Just last week, in East Antarctica, the Conger Ice Shelf collapsed completely, releasing an iceberg the size of Los Angeles. Of course, this barrier had been disintegrating for several years (since the mid-2000s, in fact), but this final debacle completes its now total collapse.

If calving (the formation of icebergs) is a natural phenomenon in itself, the intensification of this process is directly linked to global warming, which continues to grow while some people, who have understood absolutely nothing of what is at stake, still find ways to wage wars. What is worrying in this case is not so much the size of the iceberg that has been released (we have seen much worse in recent years) but the fact that it is located in the east of the continent, an area that was considered less vulnerable.

The rise of the world's waters cannot be stopped anymore and we must adapt to this irreversible catastrophe, but we can still limit it by limiting the current warming. At the time of writing in 2022, 385 million people already live on land threatened by flooding at high tide. With global warming limited to 1.5°C, 510 million people will be affected, but if the increase in temperature reaches 4°C, nearly 1 billion people will be affected, i.e. 15% of the world population.*

* With a warming of 3°C, for example, the city of St. Petersburg will be under water. There is something sadly ironic in the fact that a personage such as the Russian president Putin, who swears by the idea of rebuilding a great "Russia", only contributes to its "reduction" in terms of surface area, because let's remember that many of Russia's borders are indeed submerged coasts threatened by global warming.

In fact, the rise in sea level has already exceeded 20 cm since 1901 (with a current rate of about 3.5 mm per year that will accelerate). Concerning the near future, studies estimate that sea levels will rise between 0.43 m and 0.84 m by 2100 depending on the scenario of our GHG emissions evolution, but many uncertainties remain. Antarctic ice sheet instabilities alone could contribute to a rise of 2.3 to 5.4 m by 2100 (RCP8.5 scenario in the IPCC's 2019 Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere).

If global warming were to continue to melt all the continental ice, the level could eventually rise by sixty meters within several centuries. But beware, it will not be enough to reach such levels again to cause a major threat to humanity. A few tens of centimeters will be enough to submerge many territories, which is already the case.


Digital painting from the book HOPES, Symbiom Editions 2021

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