Climate Warming Will Change Our Coastlines

B. McPherson

There continues to be a small minority of people who refuse to recognize the changes in our world’s climate. The change is not consistent world wide, but the trend is towards a warmer world. Because much of our planet is covered by oceans, the ability to plan for a warmer world is extremely important.

As long as humans have been trading, the importance of sea ports has grown. With the predictions of sea level change by the end of this century reaching at least 8 inches(0.2m) and possibly as much as 6.6ft.(2m) coastal cities need to start preparations now for the changes that are coming. Some have in Europe with London and Venice installing barriers to protect against storm surges.

According to NOAA’s predictions some US areas will be affected more than others by rising sea levels. Alaska and the US Pacific Northwest are still rebounding from the last ice-age, so the land is rising. Other areas of the US are not so lucky. Chesapeake Bay area is subsiding as is the Gulf Coast. They will be affected to a greater degree.

A years long report on the effects of climate warming on the USA was released last week by their National Climate Assessment Committee. It has dire warnings for Gulf cities such as Mobile Alabama. Yet, some of the state’s legislators are still refusing to recognize that change is already here and to take steps to help mitigate damage to their important port.

Alabama was among 12 states that had done nothing to address climate change, according to an April 2012 report by the Natural Resources Defense Council, a New York-based nonprofit that supports environmental conservation.Bloomberg

Alabama’s official climatologist John Christy, has told legislators that the situation is not worrisome. People on the sandy, barrier islands around Mobile Bay are reporting more ocean flooding and greater storm surges than ever before experienced. One weather event is not indicative of climate change, but a series of them is establishing a pattern.

For those people outside the USA and Puerto Rico, all it takes is a map and a little common sense to see what would happen to the coast lines if the seas climb a minimum of 0.2m. There is an interactive map available at Global Flood Map where you can enter your own town and choose different levels of ocean rise to see the predictions. Salt intrusion will kill land plants and make coastal wells brackish, flooding at periodic high tides will occur more frequently, storm surges will inundate greater areas and with more force, higher ocean levels will cause coastal erosion.

It is predicted that with only a 6 inch increase, over 41 million people will be displaced and will be looking for new homes.


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