In the Baltic Sea near the coast of Germany, the remnants of an ancient settlement were found fully submerged underwater. Archeologists determined that these artifacts were over 7,000 years old. They were evidence of a civilization that was destroyed by the last catastrophic sea level rise. The documentary 66 Meters: Rising Sea Levels argues that we are quickly approaching the same fate today.
"We cannot engineer ourselves out of sea level rise," says one scientist featured in the film. His sentiments are echoed by additional archeologists and oceanographers as they paint a worst-case scenario portrait of the calamity that might await us.
What are our options if the seas rise to levels that could submerge entire cities? The costs would be immeasurable both in monetary considerations and in the loss of human life. The topography of our planet would be forever altered.
New York City is one such example explored in the film. America's most populous city is particularly vulnerable to this phenomenon based upon its close proximity to the coast and towering infrastructure. With just a modest increase in sea level, their underground subway system might become flooded and uninhabitable in less than an hour.
The film delves into the science behind sea levels and identifies that cities and other bodies of land that are rising above or sinking into the sea at a gradual but steady rate year after year. These estimates are complicated by the consistent melting of ice sheets in regions like Greenland. The rate by which this melting occurs is unpredictable. It can occur incrementally over hundreds of years and escalate to the point of total disintegration in less than ten years. Once the process begins, it's impossible to control.
The dangers are not just a distant possibility. Indonesia is sinking every year. Other cities may flood entirely in a matter of years, which would place the stability of their countries in peril. Engineered barriers and other flood defense efforts might only provide a temporary band-aid to long-term calamity. Future generations will have to abandon their homelands and adapt to a new way of life.
Featuring one alarming revelation after another, 66 Meters: Rising Sea Levels presents is a sobering, but necessary portrait.
Directed by: Alexander Lahl, Max Mönch