No, don’t be sad, *seal* levels are fine!

The seas will rise! That is one of the easiest climate-change impacts to convey to the lay public and one of the most controversial. Part of why it’s so hotly contested is that it’s easy to visualize sea-levels rising. It’s easy to imagine, to portray in striking visual images. Its power as metaphor, as symbolism, gives it a cultural charge.

But there’s also a more prosaic reason there’s been so much fighting about sea levels. It goes like this: In its most recent report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made projections of sea-level rise based solely on the thermal expansion of the oceans. (As water warms, it expands.) That got them up to around a meter (3.3 feet) by 2300, which is not nothing, but not apocalypse either.