Here’s what would happen if all the ice on Earth melted overnight

  • If all the ice on Earth melted overnight, the planet would be sent into chaos.
  • There would be mass flooding from sea levels rising, severe weather changes, deadly chemical releases, and mass greenhouse gasses that would leak into the atmosphere.
  • Scientists say we need to stop the planet from rising in temperature by just 1° Celsius, or this could happen sooner than we think.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: Ninety-nine percent of all freshwater ice on Earth is sitting on top of Greenland and Antarctica, and each year, a little more of it melts into the ocean. Normally, it would take hundreds to thousands of years for it all to melt away. But what if something happened that caused a massive global melt overnight?

As we slept, sea levels would rise by a whopping 66 meters. Coastal cities like New York, Shanghai, and London would drown in the apocalyptic mass flood, forcing up to 40% of the world’s population out of their homes. While all this chaos ensues aboveground, something equally sinister is happening below. All that rising saltwater will infiltrate groundwater reserves farther inland, forcing its way into nearby freshwater aquifers. You know, the ones that supply our drinking water, irrigation systems, and power-plant cooling systems? All those aquifers would be destroyed. Not good.

On top of that, the ice on Greenland and Antarctica is made of freshwater, so when it melts, that’s about 69% of the world’s freshwater supply that’s going straight into the oceans. This will wreak havoc on our ocean currents and weather patterns. Take the Gulf Stream, for example. It’s a strong ocean current that brings warm air to northern Europe and relies on dense, salty water from the Arctic in order to function. But a flood of freshwater would dilute the current and could weaken or even stop it altogether. Without that warm air, temperatures in northern Europe would plummet, and that could spawn a mini ice age, according to some experts.

That’s not even the worst of it. Take a look at what will happen when that last 1% of freshwater ice that’s not part of Greenland or Antarctica thaws. Some of that 1% is sitting in glaciers farther inland. The Himalayan glaciers specifically pose one of the largest threats because of what’s trapped inside: toxic chemicals like dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, or DDT. Scientists discovered that glaciers like this can store these chemicals for decades. But as they thaw, those glaciers release the chemicals into rivers, lakes, and groundwater reserves, poisoning each one as they go.

The rest of that 1% is hanging out underground, mostly in the Arctic tundra, as something called permafrost. Permafrost is organic matter that’s been frozen in the ground for two-plus years. Now, one of the most immediate problems with thawing permafrost would be mercury poisoning. That’s right: There are an estimated 15 million gallons of mercury stored up in the Arctic permafrost. That’s almost equal to the amount of mercury everywhere else on Earth. On top of that, the organic matter in permafrost is a tasty meal for microorganisms. After they digest it all, they fart out two of the most potent greenhouse gases out there, carbon dioxide and methane. Scientists estimate this could double the current levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and potentially cause global temperatures to rise by 3.5 degrees Celsius compared to today.

That might not sound like much, but say goodbye to that mini European ice age, and even rivers and lakes around the world. They’d evaporate from the higher temperatures and cause mass droughts and desert-like climates. And all that extra water vapor in the atmosphere would fuel more frequent and stronger storms, floods, and hurricanes. So all of that newly established coastline on the eastern US would be one of the last places you’d want to live. Instead, there would be mass migrations to Canada, Alaska, the Arctic, and even what’s left of the Antarctic.

And you’re right, this is probably never going to happen. After all, there’s enough ice right now to cover the entire continent of North America in a sheet a mile thick. So the next time you hear about record-breaking heat or ultra-powerful hurricanes, at least you know that it could be worse. But scientists estimate that if we don’t take action and global temperatures increase by just 1 degree Celsius, the effects of climate change we already see today will be irreversible. So yes, it could be worse, and it will be if we’re not careful.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in September 2019.

Read the original article on Business Insider

What if you survived the apocalypse?

  • Surviving the apocalypse is the first step, but what’s next?
  • Head to the grocery stores, hospitals, and pharmacies to stock up on supplies.
  • Move out of the city and start a new life in the great outdoors.
  • Then start re-building your life. Settle near fresh water, but not too close to rivers, forage for heirloom seeds, and search for solar panels with big batteries. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: The virus was swift and deadly. After emerging near your home in New York City, it spread. First to London, then to Tokyo, eventually wiping out more than 99% of the global population. But you … you were lucky. You were one of the few thousand people on Earth with immunity who survived. So, now what?

Your first step is to stock up. An average midsize supermarket can sustain one person for about 55 years. 63, if you’re cool with eating the cat and dog food. As you scan the aisles, look for canned food, some of which can last for up to several decades, and bottled water. Because once the power grid goes down, your municipal water supply will run dry in a matter of weeks or even days.

You’ll also want to grab some superglue in case you get injured. It can easily seal wounds in the absence of stitches. And make sure to hit up hospitals, pharmacies, and even vet offices for antibiotics and pain killers. Vets treat animals with many of the same medicines that we use for humans, such as the pain reliever hydrocodone and the antibiotic doxycycline.

Once you’re packed, you’ll want to hit the road. Because without electricity to cool the fuel inside nuclear reactors, pressure could build up and cause the reactor’s containment building to fail. Especially if it’s old or it was poorly maintained. And that could release toxic radiation within a 50-mile radius or greater. And even if your city or town isn’t near one of these plants, you’ll still want to seek isolation. Because in the aftermath of the apocalypse, there will be decaying corpses strewn about the streets. Oh, yeah. It’s gonna stink. But they’ll also attract animal scavengers and infectious bacteria that could harm or kill you if you get too close.

So, yeah, a country home is looking pretty good right now. Though it’ll be tough to figure out exactly where to settle. You’ll need to be close to fresh water but also far away from major rivers, because many dams could eventually collapse without anyone to maintain them. You’ll also want to be near fertile soil so you can grow your own food once your grocery supply runs out. And, of course, you’ll want to be at least 50 miles from a nuclear power plant. So somewhere north of Edison, New Jersey, would probably be a good bet.

After settling in, you’ll need a steady supply of drinking water. So it’s a good thing purifying creek or lake water is surprisingly easy. You can bring it to a boil, fill up clear plastic water bottles no larger than a liter and stick them in direct sunlight for at least six hours, or add a few drops of a 5% liquid bleach solution to a liter of water. But farming your own food would be a lot tougher. If you’re able to scavenge a gun or a bow and arrow, you could hunt. There are over 100,000 deer in New Jersey, which is more than 11 per square mile. And each one could keep you satisfied for two weeks or more.

But wouldn’t it be easier just to farm? Assuming you could plant the right crops, yes. Corn, for example, might be everywhere. But many modern varieties are hybrids and often can’t reproduce on their own, so they won’t grow from one year to the next. That’s why you’ll want to scavenge seeds of heirloom crops, which reproduce naturally. Try searching small farms, backyard gardens, and garden centers for beans, potatoes, and some kind of leafy green. That way you’ll have a supply of protein, carbs, and lots of vitamins.

Now, with crops in the ground, things will be looking up. You know, relative to life in post-apocalyptic times. But you know what would make it better? Electricity. You could store perishable foods, like the deer you killed. Not to mention have light, heat, running water, and whatever else might help you live more comfortably. At first, you can scavenge motor generators from roadwork or construction sites and siphon gasoline out of abandoned cars to power them. But eventually you’ll want to nab some solar panels along with big batteries to store the power they produce. Abandoned golf carts might be a good place to look. They’re powered by deep-cycle lead-acid batteries, which you can discharge many times without significantly shortening their lifespan.

Aah. Now you can finally relax. All that’s left is repopulating the planet.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in February 2020.

Read the original article on Business Insider