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This is the simplest, scariest visualization of sea level rise

It’s just a simple series of LED lights–but it forces us to envision the floods of the future.

It’s a pretty sight. Lines of light, perfectly drawn across homes and mountains using LED lights, dividing the world into above and below. It only becomes terrifying when you learn what those lines represent: What could eventually be underwater as ocean levels rise, based on current scientific estimates.

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Located at one of the Outer Hebrides, a group of islands off the west coast of Scotland, Lines is a collaboration between Finnish artists Pekka Niittyvirta and Timo Aho.

As Niittyvirta and Aho told me via email, they started the project by reflecting on the location of seaside communities–a topic that quickly developed into discussing climate change and rising tides. They developed the idea working remotely through long Skype conversations, with Aho in Scotland and Niittyvirta from Finland.

[Photo: courtesy Pekka Niittyvirta]
To them, the evolution of the idea felt natural; their creative process is intimately related to their ideas about the coexistence of society and nature. “As Finnish people we have [a] quite close relationship with the nature,” they say. “Even people living in the cities usually have quite strong connection to the nature.”

Of course, we don’t know for sure how much the oceans will rise for sure. Rather, Lines illustrates an estimate of an undefined period of time, based on a variety of current studies. It’s a powerful visualization, though. Perhaps coastal cities around the world could hire the artists to re-create the installation–showing people what their homes and favorite places will look like in just a few decades–and prompt some change.

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About the author

Jesus Diaz founded the new Sploid for Gawker Media after seven years working at Gizmodo, where he helmed the lost-in-a-bar iPhone 4 story. He's a creative director, screenwriter, and producer at The Magic Sauce and a contributing writer at Fast Company.

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