by Robert Wilkinson
This is for anyone living near a coastline. Since water “seeks its own level,” it also applies to anyone living near a river. It’s time to prepare for the inevitability of rising seas!
Besides the need to prepare for rising ocean and river levels globally, several recent environmental reports also tell us that in the future we can expect increased flooding in the US (and by extension, everywhere else, since we all share the same ecosystem!) From an MSNBC news story, we read “For the nearly 5 million people who live along the U.S. coasts from Maine to the Gulf of Mexico and the West Coast, rising seas fueled by global warming have doubled the risk of so-called once-a-century floods, according to a trio of environmental reports released Wednesday (March 14).”
While the three reports specifically addressed problems facing the US in the future, again, it’s not like ocean levels will rise here and not elsewhere. From the story:
...South Florida may be "indefensible" against floods caused by higher seas and the bigger storm surges that are expected to result, according to Ben Strauss, an expert on ecology and evolutionary biology who is chief operating officer of Climate Central. He co-authored the two journal reports and the online report…. In California, some places that have never seen severe floods could be vulnerable to them in the next decade or two, Strauss said.
...world sea levels have risen by 8 inches since 1880. This rise in the world's seas is caused by the expansion of ocean waters as they warm and by the melting of glaciers and ice sheets,… due to global warming fueled by the emission of heat-trapping greenhouse gases...
...Forecasts for sea level rise this century range from 2 to 7 feet with most estimates centering around 3 to 4 feet, given a projected rise in global temperature of at least 2 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit, Strauss said.
...Global warming will more than double the odds of once-a-century floods by 2030 for more than two-thirds of the 55 coastal locations considered in the analysis, the Climate Central report said. For a majority of the locations, warming triples the odds of century floods.
By 2030, storm surges combined with rising seas could raise waters to 4 feet or more above high tide lines at many locations, the reports said, noting that 4.9 million people live in 2.6 million homes in this vulnerable zone between the observed high tide and the top of expected flood waters.
Cities are likely to be hit hardest, Strauss said, with 90 percent of the impact projected to come in areas with extremely dense population. In 285 coastal cities and towns, more than half the population lives below the 4-foot mark, the Climate Central report found.
Florida has 106 of these at-risk municipalities; Louisiana has 65, New Jersey and North Carolina have 22 each, Maryland has 14, New York has 13 and Virginia has 10.
Florida is a special case because in addition to rising seas and storm surges, its geology and system of drainage canals pose complex problems… "A lot of the state is built on porous bedrock, bedrock that's like Swiss cheese," he said. "You can't practically build a wall to keep the sea out. The water will come up through the ground."
You can find more by going to surgingseas.org.
Though this was written specifically addressing US coastal concerns, as I noted earlier it will affect everyone living on a coastline anywhere in the world. As the seas rise, it will compromise the freshwater ecosystems on coastlines through saltwater contamination (as has already happened many places in the world.) And of course, this doesn’t address the problem of shrinking and/or submerging entire islands, such as the Maldives, Majorca, the Bahamas, and other island nations.
I wrote about this looming problem last November in the article South Florida Underwater – An Inevitability so it’s not like this is an unexpected development. But I do like to pass on information that could help my readers located on coastlines to prepare for the inevitability of environmental change in their part of the world (and maybe prepare to have some beachfront property that is now hundreds of yards inland!)
As I wrote in that article, “I suppose the only ones who will benefit are those who have businesses that elevate beachfront houses on stilts, those who get paid to solve water and wastewater issues for municipalities, and those who have houses at least 50 feet higher than the current edge of where land meets water (over 100 feet if the Greenland ice sheets all melt!)” This ever-growing ecological problem will yield a lot of jobs for those with expertise in these things and related matters.
Beach erosion has already created a lot of jobs in NY, NJ, CA, and AZ (yes, even in Arizona!!) so if you’re interested in learning useful skills that will be absolutely necessary in the future, by all means, use your imagination, get some training, and go for it! (Can’t leave you on a downer, can I?;-))
© Copyright 2012 Robert Wilkinson