Three major reports raise concerns about future sea levels
TODAY'S MUST READ
RISING SEAS. National Geographic. September 2013.
As the planet warms, the sea rises. Coastlines flood. What will we protect? What will we abandon? How will we face the danger of rising seas? All these concerns are the focus of this article from National Geographic.
Three new studies—the leaked draft of the forthcoming IPCC Report; a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change; and, HUD’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Strategy—spell out the dire consequences of refusing to address climate change.
The Fifth Assessment Report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC) is due out next month but leaked drafts of the report reveal that scientists are now 95% confident that human activity is the primary cause of global warming. According to the leaked data, the warming of the planet could rise by as little as 2.7°F to more than 5°F this century. On the possible rise in sea levels, the experts predict it could be more than 3 feet by 2100. Reactions were swift. Joe Rohm called the findings an instantly out-of-date snapshot. Michael Mann described them as an “exclamation mark” on what we already know. Chris Field stated the IPCC has a tradition of being conservative. The Guardian’s John Abraham said scientists have now sent a “clear message.” For 10 more nuggets from the report worth noting, read this.
A recent essay by Bryan Walsh in Time reminds us that nearly all of the $19 billion in damage incurred in NYC from Hurricane Sandy came from water. Now, The Future Flood Losses in Major Coastal Cities, a report in Nature Climate Change claims losses from flooding in 136 of the world's coastal port cities could near $1 trillion annually by 2050—if no defensive improvements are made in flood zones.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the White House commissioned a task force to devise a strategic plan to protect the U.S. against future, extreme storms and calculate climate change into account when investing federal funds in post-Sandy rebuilding. The Hurricane Sandy Task Force has released its report. It contains 69 recommendations as well as a 15-page section dedicated to the threats posed by extreme weather. Rebuilding infrastructure that’s “resilient” is the report’s main focus. Reactions to the report can be found here.
These reports have triggered an outpouring of commentary about the leadership within the green community and its nagging failure to keep the public focused on climate change. Bill McKibben has a long essay in GRIST on why the environmental movement lacks a single, discernable capital-L leader. Andrew Revkin discusses why the overwhelming scientific data hasn’t commandeered the public’s attention. Time’s Kharunya Paramaguru psychoanalyzes the public’s refusal to confront climate change’s imminent catastrophes. Co-bloggers, Amy Luers, Carl Pope, & David Kroodsma contend efforts to effectively address the climate crisis will remain stifled until the schism between the mitigation and adaptation halves of the environmental community are united. And, Mother Earth News blames the media for the public’s apathetic reaction—claiming it intentionally misleads them.
Along the Potomac and up on the HILL, the GAO is investigating how the Obama Administration increased the ‘social cost of carbon’ from $21 to $35 per metric ton. The complexity the EPA faces in crafting comprehensive power plant rules to control carbon emissions in states with carbon footprints as diverse as California and Oklahoma is reported on here. The Interior Department acknowledged light and noise pollution emitted by the Keystone XL Pipeline could have a negative impact on natural resources, wildlife and national parks. Solar panels have been installed on the roof of the White House, as part of a larger energy retrofit. The U.S. is now installing one solar photovoltaic system every four minutes.
In California a new poll reveals fracking has caught the attention of Californians residing in 5 key assembly districts. The NRDC commissioned survey shows 75% of respondents have concerns about fracking and these concerns are escalating. A summary of the findings can be found here.
A Superior County Court ruled California’s funding plan for high-speed rail violated key provisions of Proposition 1A. Jerry Brown says he still plans to push forward with the project. SB 375, California’s Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act of 2008, is the subject of an article in The Atlantic Cities. To see how San Francisco, Sacramento and San Diego have responded to the law’s mandates, read the article here. In a report released by the U.S. Department of Transportation, California freeways logged 85 billion miles in 2011—the equivalent of 900 trips from the Earth to the Sun.
QUOTES OF THE DAY
"unequivocal" How the IPCC reports characterizes the evidence of rising sea levels.
“The report is simply an exclamation mark on what we already knew.” Dr. Michael Mann reacting to the IPCC Report in an email to Joe Rohm printed in Climate Progress.
“Better late than never … it’s very good to know that once again the country’s most powerful address will be drawing some of that power from the sun.” Bill McKibben commenting on the installation of solar panels on the White House roof.
CALIFORNIANS ARE CONCERNED ABOUT FRACKING. NRDC. August 20, 2013.
A survey produced by the NRDC survey of five California State Assembly districts impacted by oil drilling and protective fracking legislation.
THE SURGING SEAS MAP. CLIMATE CENTRAL.
The map shows best estimates of land under different water levels, based upon the National Elevation Dataset from the US Geological Survey.
RISING SEAS. National Geographic. September 2013.
FUTURE FLOOD LOSSES IN MAJOR COASTAL CITIES
REPORT. Future Flood Losses in Major Coastal Cities. Nature Climate Change. August 18, 2013.
THE HURRICANE SANDY TASK FORCE
Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force Releases Rebuilding Strategy. Department of Housing and Urban Development. August 19, 2013.