Could the legend of Atlantis serve as a lesson about sea level rise?

FOUNTAIN VALLEY— Nazis, Aquaman and famous psychics like Edgar Cayce: What do these have in common? They are all in some way related to the lore of Atlantis, a mythical civilization described by Plato as one of the most advanced places that ever existed. According to data gathered, more than half of people believe Atlantis is a real place despite its allegorical origins. Even though Atlantis is most likely fictional, that does not stop others from searching for it. However, the lore could give insight into the future of a subject that is very real: sea level rise.


Fact or fiction? Debunking the Legend

If Indiana Jones were a real person, he would undoubtedly be using his archaeological knowledge to uncover the truth about a myth that Plato strung together. Comparable to the Holy Grail, Atlantis would the end-all-be-all archeological find and as recently as November, explorers have discovered the location of the island – this time it was off the coast of Spain. Atlantis is mentioned in both dialogues Timaeus and Critias, written around 360 B.C., and is described as an island “larger than Libya and Asia put together” that rose from the Atlantic Ocean and “a great and wonderful empire” seeking to destroy all other nations.

During “a single day and night of misfortune,” Atlantis sank into the vast sea never to be seen again. Atlantis itself may not be a real place, but that scenario certainly sounds like an example of flooding and hurricane destruction that has happened time and time again.

In a recent article penned by David Anderson, an award-winning archeological researcher and writer, he said: “The 2018 survey of paranormal beliefs carried out by Chapman University found that 56.9 percent of Americans agree or strongly agree that ‘Ancient advanced civilizations, such as Atlantis, once existed.’ This number is troubling to scholars who study the ancient world, including myself.”

Anderson goes on to explain how a parable by Plato evolved over the years, leading many onto a quixotic quest to find a place that most believers of science would absolutely a fictional place. Nazis, for instance, embraced Atlantis as the origins of the Aryan race … and, ironically, completely overlooked the purpose and teachings of Plato’s parable. Such is the way of the human race.

As a parable, Plato condemned the Atlantean people for their greed, arrogance and obsession with wealth, which was ultimately their downfall.


Real-Life Sunken Cities

While Atlantis may not be a real sunken city, try Googling sunken cities and prepare to be amazed by how many results come up: more than 10 million. Not to mention, underwater “memorial reefs,” or mausoleums, and resorts with underwater rooms, such as The Manta Resort in Tanzania, are growing in numbers.

The Saint Louis Art Museum displayed an exhibit about Egypt’s sunken cities. In our own backyard, Southern California hosts “The Sunken City” in San Pedro, which was a result of several homes sliding from the rocks into the ocean. This place can be seen in many films and television shows. Port Royal in Jamaica, Dwarka in the Gulf of Cambay off India’s coast, Cleopatra’s Palace off the shores of Alexandria, Egypt, Epidaurus in Greece, and Pavlopetri submerged in the Mediterranean are just a few of the many ancient civilizations, once thriving, that now lie in a watery grave below the ocean’s depth.

As technology advances, who is to say hundreds of years from now future generations will not live in a domed world similar to Aquaman’s in the new film starring Jason Momoa? The television-like camera phones of “The Jetsons” seemed distant and faraway when the cartoon premiered in 1962, but today in 2019, FaceTime, Skype and other cell phone apps that allow video conferencing doesn’t make most bat an eye – and these apps are so commonly used they are included with most new cellular and computer devices.


Is there a deeper level to look at Atlantis’s myth?

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Association (NOAA) reported in January 2017 on “Global and Regional Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the United States.” In the report, there is documentation and data collected observed rises in sea level. The report also gives a detailed outline on building for a major flood, indicating South Florida as a result. Several sources have cited cities like Tampa as one that could be in danger.

Cities all over the world are in fear of being the next sunken city largely due to sea level rise, which The Log has covered extensively. In a Planet-of-the-Apes-like twist, some major cities on the West Coast such as San Diego, Santa Barbara, Avalon, Los Angeles and others could end up underwater in 100 years.

It may be disappointing for believers and those who continually search for Atlantis to be denied. Still, sometimes fact is stranger than fiction and hundreds of years from now it’s a likely possibility that our beloved coastal communities may disappear into Atlantean lore. Most importantly, the metaphorical Atlantis is a reminder to work together to protect our coastal communities and ocean so as not to fall from mortal hubris.

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