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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > Jun-18 > Wet Wet Wet

Wet Wet Wet

Humanity is capable of sinking itself

The seas cover 71 per cent of our “blue planet,” and so they might also seem too vast to be altered by humanity. But the world’s diameter is close to 13,000km, and the ocean is never more than a few kilometres deep. So if you scooped all the world’s water into a sphere, its circumference would barely cover France.

Even modest rises in average temperatures raise the sea level, through the melting of polar ice and glaciers, and the expansion of liquid water. Indeed, past changes have been dramatic: the sea has risen over 120 meters since the end of the last ice age, when temperatures were 4-5°C lower. Even if the world can fulfil the stretching ambitions of the Paris agreement, climate change will push the mercury up by another 1.5°C over-and-above the pre-industrial age.

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In Prospect’s June issue: Isabel Hilton, Rana Mitter, Kerry Brown and Yuan Ren debate the rise of China and what it means for the UK and the rest of the world. Hilton argues that China’s ideas could dominate the next century, just as American ideas dominated the last. Rana Mitter charts how those ideas have developed from Confucius to modern political theorist Wang Huning. Kerry Brown explores how Australia is dealing with the rise of China, by reimagining itself as an Asian country and drifting from the US. Yuan Ren asks whether China’s young people will forge a new path for the country in the coming decades. Elsewhere in the issue: Steve Bloomfield explores Jeremy Corbyn’s foreign policy, asking whether Britain would become a silent protester on the global sideline; Jonathan Liew asks if the World Cup has seen better days; Miranda France explores the life and meaning of Frida Kahlo, and Simon Jenkins says Trump’s charge through the China shop of world affairs is not all bad news.