More alarming news on rising sea levels
When you read this study claiming that sea levels in the US Northeast rose almost 3.9 inches between 2009 and 2010, you start to wonder just how bad all of this can get. The oceans are getting warmer, the ice caps are melting, and the ocean currents are also being disrupted.
Yes, similar changes have happened in the Earth’s history, but not with millions of people living along the coastlines.
Rising waters threaten South Florida coastline and Everglades
Spend some time in the harbors of beautiful Miami and you’ll quickly get a sense of how this region would be threatened by rising sea levels. The area is spectacular but incredibly vulnerable. Many experts are starting to sound the alarm:
In the most dire predictions, South Florida’s delicate barrier islands, coastal communities and captivating subtropical beaches will be lost to the rising waters in as few as 100 years.
Further inland, the Everglades, the river of grass that gives the region its fresh water, could one day be useless, some scientists fear, contaminated by the inexorable advance of the salt-filled ocean. The Florida Keys, the pearl-like strand of islands that stretches into the Gulf of Mexico, would be mostly submerged alongside their exotic crown jewel, Key West.
Read the entire article and you’ll see how little politicians in Florida are doing to prepare for this potential scenario. Climate change is just one of many polarizing issues we face today and battle lines are drawn. One side does not want to acknowledge the potential risk at all, which makes it hard to debate how we might address this threat. One harsh reality, however, is that at some point there is no amount of engineering that can help. If we ever get to the point of a two-foot rise in seas levels, the entire area would be at risk. It’s a sobering thought.
Are attitudes shifting on global warming?
With the unfortunate damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, the issue of global warming is front and center again in the public discourse. And, after years where climate science deniers have tried to shift the public debate, the hurricane has provided a vivid example of the challenges we face as a result of global warming. Of course you can’t tie one storm to this phenomenon, but rising sea levels certainly added to the destruction as we saw massive flooding in New York and New Jersey. The general connection is logical, and the public is now paying attention again. As the Earth gets warmer, the polar ice caps are melting, and sea levels are rising. With that, the chance of flooding increases dramatically.
With the latest election, exit polls showed that 68% of Americans listed climate change as a serious problem. This represents a pretty big shift, though we’ll have to see if this holds as the storm is fresh in everyone’s mind right now. It will probably remain in the news, however, as rebuilding in New York and New Jersey will be a big story, along with the fight for Federal funds to pay for it.
Here are some more reactions.
An unscientific survey of the social networking literature on Sandy reveals an illuminating tweet (you read that correctly) from Jonathan Foley, director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. On Oct. 29, Foley thumbed thusly: “Would this kind of storm happen without climate change? Yes. Fueled by many factors. Is storm stronger because of climate change? Yes.” Eric Pooley, senior vice president of the Environmental Defense Fund (and former deputy editor of Bloomberg Businessweek), offers a baseball analogy: “We can’t say that steroids caused any one home run by Barry Bonds, but steroids sure helped him hit more and hit them farther. Now we have weather on steroids.”
In an Oct. 30 blog post, Mark Fischetti of Scientific American took a spin through Ph.D.-land and found more and more credentialed experts willing to shrug off the climate caveats. The broadening consensus: “Climate change amps up other basic factors that contribute to big storms. For example, the oceans have warmed, providing more energy for storms. And the Earth’s atmosphere has warmed, so it retains more moisture, which is drawn into storms and is then dumped on us.” Even those of us who are science-phobic can get the gist of that.
This will have an impact on our politics.
Posted in: Global Warming
Tags: climate change, climate change debate, climate science deniers, flooding, global warming debate, Hurricane Sandy, Jonathan Foley, Mark Fischetti, melting ice caps, rising sea levels, sea levels