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Climate Change is Going to Sink Gullah Gullah Island

Don’t worry, this won’t be on the test, but the location where they filmed cherished children’s TV show Gullah Gullah Island will be underwater before the end of this century, if not sooner.

Strong storms are going to get stronger, heat waves are going to get hotter, and droughts are going to get drier, but the one consequence of climate change that will affect humans the quickest is displacement from coastal areas as sea levels rise. As global temperatures increase — 2014 was the hottest year we have on record — our seas will bloat. Extra water pours in from melting glaciers and the oceans literally expand as they get warmer. The result is higher sea levels.

The few millimeters per year that the seas are rising may not seem like much, but four billion members of our species live within 400 kilometers of a coastline. Over the next few decades, those millimeters will add up. Millions and millions of us live in areas where just a foot or more could ruin house and home. And by the year 2100, Gullah Gullah Island will be gone. Its filming location will, anyway.

While Gullah Gullah Island was filmed in the same studio as Clarissa Explains It All, many of its outdoor shots were filmed at Fripp Island in South Carolina — a location where any sea level rise will hit hard.

Using NOAA’s sea level rise simulator, I located Fripp Island and rose the oceans around Gullah Gullah Island. Here’s what Fripp Island looks like normally:

Sea Level 0

And here’s what happens with one foot of sea level rise (the light blue is shallow water, the green is low-lying areas):

Sea Level 1

Here is two feet:

Sea Level 2

Now let’s go further. Here is Fripp Island enduring four feet of sea level rise:

Sea Level 4

Let’s max out this simulator with six feet:

Sea Level 6

Six feet of sea level rise is obviously the worst-case scenario here, but it is a bit drastic. According to a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we can expect maybe 3 feet of sea level rise within the next 80 years or so if things keep getting worse, i.e., if we keep recklessly burning fossil fuels. However, that rise would still put much of Fripp Island underwater, and most likely Gullah Gullah Island along with it.

Oh, but Binyah Binyah Polliwog will be alright.

Kyle Hill is the Science Editor of Nerdist Industries. Follow on Twitter @Sci_Phile.

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  1. first, due to the margin of error there’s only a 38% chance that it’s the hottest year on record. the scientists themselves admitted that. 

    second, even discounting that, the speculated increase was two-one hundredths of a degree.

    third, the pro-global warming crowd discounts the “pause” by saying 15 years is too short a period of time to indicate a trend. well if you believe the earth is 4 billion years old (or so) the 30-40 year trend they use isn’t any more statistically significant.

    there can be no doubt that man has had a detrimental impact on the environment, however, the warmists insist on playing the part of the boy who cried wolf. and every time one of their predictions fails to come true (which happens a lot) they lose credibility and people stop listening

    • Kyle Hill says:

      First, the existence of a margin of error does not discount the trend of increasingly warm years. In fact, despite the margin of error, the more we see the data line up one way the more confident we can be that we are on the right track.

      Second, it doesn’t matter if you think 0.02 degrees is small — over a century that adds up, and just a few degrees of warming can through ecosystems into chaos.

      Third, there has never been a “pause.” There never was. No one said that. It’s not in the data.

  2. Nina says:

    So, what you’re saying is, we live in danger of the only known habitat of enormous nightmare-fuel puppet-frogs disappearing? I’m … actually, I’m okay with it that way.

  3. Piratey says:

    Meh…Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Al Gore(in 2007) say that the polar ice caps would be gone by 2013? I mean…I’ll have to check with Sara Palin, cause she could look out her back window, but I’m pretty sure they are still there..right? Seems like they keep moving the goalposts on these climate disaster predictions.
    Plus aren’t a lot of these the same people that can’t tell me if I should bring an extra sweatshirt on a camping trip a week in advance? Now they want to make predictions 8 decades in the future?

    • Thylacine says:

      Nah, those are meteorologists. Determining how the weather is going to be day to day is very different from determining trends occurring over decades. I find the moving of the goal posts actually reassuring, it shows that we’re learning more about how complex the situation is and means predictions can improve in the future. Whatever the degree of severity, ecosystems will change and are currently changing. Tiny shifts in temperature have huge impacts.