Rising Sea Levels Are A Lot More Scary When You Can See How They’ll Drown You

These photos show how high waters are going to rise, by showing how deep underwater kids will be when they’re grownups.


Climate change will hurt the lives of kids today far more than it will hurt the older adults who are our elected politicians.


To visualize the effect of rising seas on young generations, Mary Beth Hartman at Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Environmental Studies created a powerful series of images of children standing in waters at the level the seas would rise by the time they are their grandparents’ age.

As the Weather Channel reports, in 2068, Sarah (shown above) will be near the end of her calculated life expectancy, and the sea level in Portland, Oregon, will be 26 inches higher–up to where her knees are now. Roy, in 2076, will be near his life’s end, and sea level near New Orleans will be 39 inches higher.

When Lauren reaches her life expectancy (2078), sea level in Miami Beach, Florida, will be 36 inches higher. When Jeremy reaches his life expectancy (2061), sea level in New Orleans will be 32 inches higher. (Courtesy of Mary Beth Hartman, Florida Atlantic University)

The portrait series, called Sea Level Rise In My Lifetime, was part of a media and outreach strategy for Florida Atlantic University’s annual Sea Level Rise Summit, funded by the Flora Foundation. Hartman worked with the organization Climate Central, which had produced a calculator for localized sea level rise projections with its Surging Seas tool. She told the Weather Channel:

“I don’t think we realized how powerful they would be.”

The children shown are mostly the kids of scientists at the university, which is in a coastal state that stands to see huge impacts from rising waters. Hartman told the Weather Channel that she considered taking photos of adults, too, but decided against it:

“But it’s just not the same of me standing up to my shin as of these kids,” she said. “As parents, it’s so powerful that this is what we’re leaving them. This is a real and difficult issue that we’re leaving them.”

About the author

Jessica Leber is a staff editor and writer for Fast Company's Co.Exist. Previously, she was a business reporter for MIT’s Technology Review and an environmental reporter at ClimateWire