The Weather channel provides special reports from government agencies (FEMA, NOAA) and environmental/ecological studies (seminars and University studies) that teach us how to respond to heavy storms, sustained heavy rain patterns, and hurricanes. It seems that the first thing flood victims want to do is wait until it is too late to evacuate. This is understandable given all the possessions and entrenched lifestyles. Still, arranging for offsite storage, moving or securing extra vehicles like RVs, boats, lawn tractors, arranging for creatures from pets to livestock, and avoiding the final highway gridlock, require more than one hasty trip when water is around one’s ankles. Wait, didn’t we have a teenager?
Sooner than later the failure of local electrical substations and erratic current across surrounding grids occurs. Virtually everyone except the non participating elderly and the poorest underclass depend heavily on electrical appliances, cell phones, GPS and Internet games to live from one hour to the next. Oh my! Now we can’t track where our teenager is. What do you mean the TV doesn’t work?
The human experience of global warming is a conflict between incremental change that seems normal and longer effects requiring two or three lifetimes before the weather definitely is different – apparently permanently – and coastlines have suffered irreparable damage to industry and housing. Some change will continue for as long as 100,000 years. Again, flooding victims think there is plenty of time because rising ocean levels are measured in an inch or two per year. Take note, however, that ecological scientists have discovered that the oceans are rising faster each year: somewhat like creeping inflation where each year includes the rise of all previous years plus the current “2.5 inches”.
In a lifetime, the long term rise in the oceans is expected to be a minimum of nine feet and as much as thirty feet – the guesstimate rises with each later evaluation. Most predictions say the warming of the planet will continue and likely will accelerate. Oceans likely will continue to rise as well, but predicting the amount is an inexact science. A recent study says we can expect the oceans to rise between 2.5 and 6.5 feet by 2100, enough to swamp many of the cities along the U.S. East Coast. More dire estimates, including a complete meltdown of the Greenland ice sheet, push sea level rise to 23 feet, enough to submerge London.
By 2100, the plains states are not immune. The Mississippi River will rise as much as the oceans do. It is true that the land is not equal in altitude. The mariner’s home town has an elevation around 700+ feet. Yet the Mississippi is only 10 miles away. The southern states (Louisiana, Arkansas) will have permanent flooding similar to the Texas floods in today’s news. The southeastern states (Florida to the Mississippi and on to the Texas/Mexico border) will have a dramatic change in coastline. New Orleans’ new lock and berm system already is proving to be inadequate in today’s weather patterns.
Global warming is not an issue subject to personal, political or corporate opinion. Many politicians and the corporate money that supports the politicians are opposed to additional regulatory policies that will impose on profits and investment. It is the same pattern of priority as the flood victims who wait until water is around their ankles. Add to this group those who insist any further government involvement in anything is taboo. These motives are understood – but irrelevant to a planet moving into a warmer phase of its slowly evolving history.
What can we do about global warming? Nothing. It will continue no matter what we do. What can we do to prepare for the effects of global warming? Plenty. The ecology of the Earth is changing fast enough for humans to notice. It is time to listen to climate experts; to elevate their influence in the news and in government committees; to work harder to implement international policies – other nations will suffer more than the US. What areas of the US will suffer rises in the sea? Climatologists have a handle on a lot of this information already. If you want to spend a night in Mar a Lago you should call Donald soon.