Sunday, September 04, 2016

Global Warming is Already Flooding America's Coasts

Click image to enlarge
click image to enlarge

UPDATED 9-6-2016:  For more images of just how much of a reality global warming and rising sea levels are for the Hampton Roads area, check out the photos at AltDaily here.  As I said before, if you care about global warming and climate change, the ONLY option on election day is to vote a straight Democrat ticket. 

Having just dodged a bullet with Tropical Storm Hermine - the photo above shows Robinson Creek close to flooding into our back yard shown in the background - many of us in Hampton Roads know and understand that global warming's impact on sea levels is real and that it is happening now.  The second photo was taken by a friend in the Ocean View section of Norfolk from her home more than an hour before high tide.  Many other areas of Norfolk and even our neighborhood flooded and as of this morning, my sister in Virginia Beach is still without power.  What's really frightening is that Hermine was not even a major storm.  Sea levels ARE rising - at the Norfolk Naval Base, the level is a foot and a half higher than less than 100 years ago.  Yet despite this, we see Republicans ranging from Donald Trump on down saying that global warming and its impacts is a "hoax."  Here in Virginia, GOP legislators will not even allow the use of the term even as the economic powerhouse of the Virginia Port Authority and numerous military bases are threatened.  A piece in the New York Times looks at the reality that is already happening while the GOP remains in denial.  Here are highlights:

NORFOLK, Va. — Huge vertical rulers are sprouting beside low spots in the streets here, so people can judge if the tidal floods that increasingly inundate their roads are too deep to drive through.
Five hundred miles down the Atlantic Coast, the only road to Tybee Island, Ga., is disappearing beneath the sea several times a year, cutting the town off from the mainland.
And another 500 miles on, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., increased tidal flooding is forcing the city to spend millions fixing battered roads and drains — and, at times, to send out giant vacuum trucks to suck saltwater off the streets.
For decades, as the global warming created by human emissions caused land ice to melt and ocean water to expand, scientists warned that the accelerating rise of the sea would eventually imperil the United States’ coastline.
Federal scientists have documented a sharp jump in this nuisance flooding — often called “sunny-day flooding” — along both the East Coast and the Gulf Coast in recent years. The sea is now so near the brim in many places that they believe the problem is likely to worsen quickly. Shifts in the Pacific Ocean mean that the West Coast, partly spared over the past two decades, may be hit hard, too.
These tidal floods are often just a foot or two deep, but they can stop traffic, swamp basements, damage cars, kill lawns and forests, and poison wells with salt. Moreover, the high seas interfere with the drainage of storm water.
In coastal regions, that compounds the damage from the increasingly heavy rains plaguing the country, like those that recently caused extensive flooding in Louisiana. Scientists say these rains are also a consequence of human greenhouse emissions.
“Once impacts become noticeable, they’re going to be upon you quickly,” said William V. Sweet, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Silver Spring, Md., who is among the leaders in research on coastal inundation. “It’s not a hundred years off — it’s now.”
[L]ocal leaders say they cannot tackle this problem alone. They are pleading with state and federal governments for guidance and help, including billions to pay for flood walls, pumps and road improvements that would buy them time.
Yet Congress has largely ignored these pleas, and has even tried to block plans by the military to head off future problems at the numerous bases imperiled by a rising sea. A Republican congressman from Colorado, Ken Buck, recently called one military proposal part of a “radical climate change agenda.”

As the problem worsens, experts are warning that national security is on the line. Naval bases, in particular, are threatened; they can hardly be moved away from the ocean, yet much of their land is at risk of disappearing within this century.
Because the land is sinking as the ocean rises, Norfolk and the metropolitan region surrounding it, known as Hampton Roads, are among the worst-hit parts of the United States. That local factor means, in essence, that the region is a few decades ahead in feeling the effects of sea-level rise, and illustrates what people along the rest of the American coast can expect.
The biggest problems involve frequent flooding of homes and roads. As the sea rises, hundreds of tidal creeks and marshes that thread through the region are bringing saltwater to people’s doorsteps.
As the national response lags, experts warn that the flooding is putting the country’s defense at risk.
Several studies have concluded that Naval Station Norfolk, the world’s largest naval base, is profoundly threatened by rising seas, as are other coastal bases. The Pentagon has managed to build floodgates and other protective measures at some facilities. But attempts by the military to develop broader climate change plans have met fierce resistance in Congress.
That was the case this summer, when an effort by the Pentagon to appoint officers to take charge of climate resilience led to a House vote prohibiting taxpayer money from being spent on the plan.

Many people in Congress, almost all of them Republicans, express doubt about climate science, with some of them promulgating conspiracy theories claiming that researchers have invented the issue to justify greater governmental control over people’s lives. So far, this ideological position has been immune to the rising evidence of harm from human-induced climate change.
Scientists had long hoped that any disintegration of the ice sheets would take thousands of years, but recent research suggests the breakup of West Antarctica could occur much faster. In the worst-case scenario, this research suggests, the rate of sea-level rise could reach a foot per decade by the 22nd century, about 10 times faster than today.
In 2013, scientists reached a consensus that three feet was the highest plausible rise by the year 2100. But now some of them are starting to say that six or seven feet may be possible. A rise that large over a span of decades would be an unparalleled national catastrophe, driving millions of people from their homes and most likely requiring the abandonment of entire cities.

Along those parts of the United States coast that are sinking at a brisk clip, including southern Louisiana and the entire Chesapeake Bay region, including Norfolk, the situation will be worse than average. On the Pacific Coast, a climate pattern that had pushed billions of gallons of water toward Asia is now ending, so that in coming decades the sea is likely to rise quickly off states like Oregon and California.

Read the entire article.  What can one do?  For starters, vote ignorance embracing Republicans out of office. For local homeowners, start water proofing your homes and make them flood resistant.  Personally, our next step will probably be to build a high berm around the perimeter of the backyard and then landscape it so that it's real purpose is camouflaged.  That, of course, will take time and money that many people simply do not have.
Water coming up the storm drain in front of the house (last October, water came half way up the driveway) 

1 comment:

RichardR said...

Michael, glad to read that you've 'dodged a bullet'-- I've been thinking of you all and checking forecasts, etc., but not getting much clear info. The Times article nails it, and indeed, Republican denial and obstruction, as with much else, is the problem. Oh, and thank you for the Fawcettian beginning to the weekend!