September 23, 2007
When A Meter Is A Natural Disaster

In a 100 years (give or take), oceans are expected to rise one meter (39 inches) and will wipe out the Jamestown settlement area, the lauch pad in Florida that sent man to the moon, Bush's Kennebunkport home, John Edwards new North Carolina spread, and many of the beaches in Texas and Florida.

This is not an "if", it's "when" and a "what are we going to save" situation:

Few of the more than two dozen climate experts interviewed disagree with the one-meter projection. Some believe it could happen in 50 years, others say 100, and still others say 150.

Sea level rise is "the thing that I'm most concerned about as a scientist," says Benjamin Santer, a climate physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

"We're going to get a meter and there's nothing we can do about it," said University of Victoria climatologist Andrew Weaver, a lead author of the February report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in Paris. "It's going to happen no matter what -- the question is when."

Sea level rise "has consequences about where people live and what they care about," said Donald Boesch, a University of Maryland scientist who has studied the issue. "We're going to be into this big national debate about what we protect and at what cost."

This week, beginning with a meeting at the United Nations on Monday, world leaders will convene to talk about fighting global warming. At week's end, leaders will gather in Washington with President Bush.

Experts say that protecting America's coastlines would run well into the billions and not all spots could be saved.


Even John Christy at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, a scientist often quoted by global warming skeptics, said he figures the seas will rise at least 16 inches by the end of the century. But he tells people to prepare for a rise of about three feet just in case.

It sounds like all sorts of policy and economic decisions will revolve around rising sea levels. Will people move away from the coasts in the next decades? What happens to tourism? Farmland near the coast? Transportation? Whole communities?

Apparently, we are past talking about stopping global warming in any sense of near-term effects. We are headed into an economic and, no doubt, geo-political crisis.

Posted by Martha Griffin on September 23, 2007 to Technology, science, and math

This will justify raising property taxes to make up for lost land.

Posted by: Charles Hixon on September 23, 2007 4:27 PM

I'm thinking I should buy land a few hundred feet inland, in anticipation of it becoming beach front. It's just a good investment ;)

Posted by: joe on September 23, 2007 5:09 PM

one giant upside is Tilman's tacky Kemah crap will become a water park.

Posted by: Jeff Hooton on September 23, 2007 6:29 PM