University of Wisconsin–Madison

Slow Change

Sea level rise will make coastal areas more susceptible to storm surges, like this one at Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland, USA after Hurricane Sandy. Credit: NASA

Steve Carpenter, a member of the GHI advisory, director of the UW-Madison Center for Limnology and a principal investigator of the UW-Madison Water Sustainability and Climate Project, was recently awarded a Wisconsin Academy Fellowship. During his April 17th acceptance speech, he remarked on creating good legacies by embracing our planet’s slow-moving processes – something rather hard to do in today’s fast-paced society.

“The rebound of Earth’s surface from the weight of the glaciers has gone on for 10-15 thousand years and is still happening today at a rate of a few millimeters per year… Slow changes, like melting glaciers and terrestrial rebound, create legacies. By dictionary definition, a legacy is property or money left to someone in a will. But we also create legacies on our planet…

Higher sea level will become one of our most important legacies. Sea level is rising because global warming is melting glaciers, adding their water to the sea…

To create good legacies, we must learn to Respect the Slow. This might be the most fundamental challenge to humanity.”

Read the full essay here on Yahara in situ, the blog of the Water Sustainability and Climate project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.