Climate Change: The Latest Inconvenient Truth

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The good news: If you’re willing to take a chance and want to speculate in oceanfront real estate, now may be the time to buy up property – in Kentucky.

Over the weekend, The Miami Herald reported that denying climate change makes it no less real: “A conference on climate change sponsored by Florida Atlantic University made it clear that ignoring the threat has done nothing to slow it down — particularly in South Florida, which has more people and property at risk by rising sea levels than any place in the country…”

“Under current projections, the Atlantic Ocean would swallow much of the Florida Keys in 100 years. Miami-Dade, in turn, would eventually replace them as a chain of islands on the highest parts of the coastal limestone ridge, bordered by the ocean on one side and an Everglades turned into a salt water bay on the other…

Overall, according to a ‘Surging Seas’ report produced earlier this year by Climate Central, Florida easily ranks as the most vulnerable state to sea-level rise, with some 2.4 million people, 1.3 million homes and 107 cities at risk from a four-foot rise, according to the report. Louisiana, by comparison, has 65 cities below the four-foot mark.”

Waves crash against the cliffs of Big Sur, Calif. A new report says erosion could cause coastal cliffs to retreat more than 100 feet by 2100. (AP Photo/Anja Schlein, FILE)

Waves crash against the cliffs of Big Sur, Calif. A new report says erosion could cause coastal cliffs to retreat more than 100 feet by 2100. (AP Photo/Anja Schlein, FILE)

Likewise, on the other side of the country, according to The Los Angeles Times, “Sea levels along the California coast are expected to rise up to 1 foot in 20 years, 2 feet by 2050 and as much as 5 1/2 feet by the end of the century, climbing slightly more than the global average and increasing the risk of flooding and storm damage, a new study says…”

“’Sea level rise isn’t a political question, it’s a scientific reality,’ said Gary Griggs, director of the Institute of Marine Sciences at UC Santa Cruz and a member of the committee that produced the report…

“The projections are largely in line with other recent scientific estimates but substantially higher than the 2007 figures by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change because they factor in a greater contribution from melting ice.”

Effects may be experienced sooner rather than later. The Herald’s Curtis Morgan wrote, “Though it might take a century or more to flood people out, scientists warned that potential impacts will come long before in the form of increasing damage from hurricane storm surge and flooding, rising insurance rates and shrinking freshwater supplies as sea water taints coastal wells.” The Los Angeles Times’ Tony Barboza noted that California’s state government will use the new findings to prepare for erosion and flooding “that is expected to threaten homes, businesses, roads, airports and other structures located within a few feet of the high-tide line…”

“Coastal California could see serious damage from storms within a few decades, especially in low-lying areas of Southern California and the Bay Area. San Francisco International Airport, for instance, could flood if the sea rises a little more than a foot, a mark expected to be reached in the next few decades. Erosion could cause coastal cliffs to retreat more than 100 feet by 2100, according to the report.”

On the other hand, Salon’s Alex Pareene observes, if Washington, D.C., and other world capitals slip beneath the waves, a lot of our political problems would be solved. “Washington being washed away into the ocean is, of course, a result that would please both liberal critics of conservative judicial activism and conservative critics of federal overreach,” he writes, “but obviously the rising sea levels will likely drown Baltimore (and Norfolk, Va.) well before they affect Washington…”

“With the global average temperature already .8 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, it is exceedingly unlikely that humanity will manage to keep the planet from warming by less than 2 degrees, which most scientists predict would be fairly disastrous for many people, even if Antonin Scalia writes a very strongly worded dissent to their models.”

Anyone for beach volleyball on the Supreme Court steps?

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