Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sea Level Rise

Yesterday in class we discussed how climate change might hurt the economy. One of the issues we focused on was a rise in sea level and what that might mean for Miami or Wilmington. Here is an article from yesterday's NYTimes with more details.

20 comments:

Kiersten Weissinger said...

There are many people world wide, particularly in low-lying, developing countries that are at serious risk from sea level rise. These environmental refugees face the very real prospect of permanent displacement from their homes; but the question remains, where will they go? For example, residents in the Maldives are considering their options, and many have already moved away from the islands. It is easy for those of us in developed (and, indeed, expansive) countries where our escape options are numerous, to negate the effects of sea level rise. This article demonstrates that we are at least beginning to consider what will happen to our beloved coastal regions. I also wonder if we can look beyond our own shores and help those who are unable to help themselves.

john ferraro said...

I feel the the one dimension of climate change that gets peoples attention are rising sea levels. The idea of coastal civilizations drowning in the future realls seems unfathomable. It is extremely scary to think about the number of refufees that are going to be created if seas rise several feet as the article predicted. I do not think it is possible for future human technology to mitigage the problems caused by sea level rise. The ocean is much too large and powerful to be controlled and manipulated by humans. If sea levels do rise in the future, all we will be able to do is let it run its course.

Brett Cottrell said...

Ferraro touched on a point that I wanted to address. The article mentioned essentially fighting the rising sea levels with man made structures. How could this even seem like a good idea?? It's the entire ocean that we are talking about, we aren't just trying to hold back a puddle of water. I like that this article notices that the issue of sea level rise is real, but I would still much rather see the real initiative to be put into preventing as much of it as can be prevented. I agree that adapting to the impending rises is necessary, as we have learned that cutting our emissions in full would still mean damages in the future, but I would really like to see these "go-get-em" attitudes pushed more towards policy change to address the climate change and sea level rise issue. I think that moving roads and building huge walls on the beach is just pushing the problem farther into the future. As Kiersten said, what about those people that can't just move when their homes go under water? I don't think that those developing nations can afford these billion-dollar excursions to move huge infrastructures. We should be looking harder at addressing the problem before we jump to huge price tags to just deal with it.

Daniel Trevor said...

I completely agree with Brett on this one. History has proven that man-made structures serve merely as a band-aid for problems caused by the force of nature. One only has to look back so far as the levees in Katrina to know this. Dredging beaches and building retaining walls are good temporary approaches, they manage to mask the problem somewhat and give people a false sense of security; but sea level rise is inevitable, and no man made object could ever be strong enough to contain such a tremendous force. Certain places will be sacrificed and many people will be forced from their homes, there's no way around it. But if we make the necessary changes NOW, permanent changes not band-aids, we can at least minimize the issue as much as possible.

Adam M. Rountree said...

I thought the comment on a change in goverement policy towards a national flood insurance was interesting point. As people decide to risk living on the coasts, who will be paying for such lifestyles? I doubt changes in weather will have no effect on the rates aka taxes to fund it. The climate changes will have an adverse selection effect on who ends up paying for such subsidies.

Nick Lemire said...

Sea level rise has been a problem for quite a while now. Not only that but the problems seen in New Orleans with storm surge problems. My idea for a solution is that we need a plan for the future. To relocate people with federal assistance rather than our country continuing to build and rebuild in areas that are in high risk areas. Actions and administrative plans need to be put in effect ASAP for these ideas to work.

Brett Cottrell said...

I have to add that I am not against people still building near the ocean. It's not a bad idea to build there, just so long as you know that your property is likely to not last forever. However, I do think that there should be attention paid to developing real estate and such in coastal areas that would attract individuals who couldn't withstand a huge loss (meaning the ocean taking their home away from them). For example, developing (and/or undeveloped) nations should pay attention to the risk of sea level rise when they choose sites to build new things in the quest grow in the world. Governments should be careful not to encourage growth in areas that could not sustain their well-being when climate change raises the sea level. It seems like common sense, but I guess maybe it isn't...?

Anonymous said...

seems like nothing is going to stop the ocean's rising sea levels. I agree with what some of the others said about needing to make policy changes to at least try and lower the levels of rise. There needs to be some serious planning going on to figure out what we can do to lower sea level rise & what should be done when it does rise.
I believe hard structures in NC were banned in the 70s, so it would be interesting to see what would happen with that. I don't think hard structures such as sea walls-etc are the answer because like Brett it is the entire ocean; plus these structures don't have the best reputation anyways. Whatever the case, I think action needs to be sooner rather than later. -At least somebody seems to be talking about it.

Rachel Bisesi

Drew Moxon said...

One interesting point that hasn't been raised is that although the likelihood of sealevel rise is great, the market price of oceanside houses doesn't really reflect that. I would think that if the market is particularly forward-looking, that prices of oceanside property would drop and insurance prices would rise. Obviously, this doesn't seem to be happening. Secondly, I think that the main problems we'll have with sea level rising is the non-urban areas of oceanfront property (ex: the Outerbanks). Larger urban areas would be harder hit, but they generally have a larger tax base to do something about it. Rural or non-urban areas don't have that luxury. It should be interesting to see how this pans out in the next few decades.

Ross Davidson said...

This kinda hits close to home. A rise in sea-level would have huge implications on Wilmington's economy and maybe even its existence. I like how they mentioned that some beaches are kept alive by dredging...kinda like our very own wrightsville beach. Maybe we should start investing in future beach front property in the Raleigh area.

Geoff Czaplijski said...

I agree that rising sea level is pretty much inevitable and the next century is going to be interesting in regards to the issue. I wonder if beach tourism will just move inland, or will there be too much infrastructure underwater to enjoy the coast. Submerged cities would most likely be a huge pollution problem, but they could become the great reefs and marine ecosystems of the future.

Catherine said...

Instead of trying to fight nature, maybe we should consider how to work with it. Our society is shifting toward more environmentally friendly policies, but we are still in the beginning stages of this concept. Have our previous generations’ ignorance or lack of concern of the future effects of industrialization damaged our planet too much already? Or will be able to mitigate the effects of global warming and potentially save our coastlines? Fortunately rising sea levels don’t occur overnight and we still have time to explore our options, and like a few others mentioned, try to help those living on the shores of less fortunate countries.

MGraham said...

This is a subject that is in everybodies mind now days. That is true the sea is rising and in time it will affect coastal cities. We must plan and be realistic about it. We must change certain habits but also start planning on what strategies to take for the influx of this population. This is just the next hundred years and what is it going to be beyond that.

Ian Cronogue said...

I agree that rising sea levels is one of the best ways to give a near term "face" to climate change, so that people actual realize the impacts are very real. One thing that has not been address is the islands that scatter the oceans through out the world. If we lost a substantial amount of shore line the consequences are severe but we just retreat inwards. On many of these islands, say Aruba, the entire land mass can be driven from one side to the other in a short while. Thus, even if the ocean does not total engulf the land it leaves displaced people with no where to resettle except for on top of each other. In these cases it seems that seawalls are not only an option but a necessity.

logan clark said...

It will be very important for communities nearby the coast to be well prepared for even the worst-case sea level rise scenario, and for surrounding cities that are located more inland to be able to plan for potential environmental refugees. Hopefully cities will be granted some form of funding to help upgrade infrastructure to compensate for this if this were the case.

Tearpock said...

Our country has definitely become more aware of climate change in recent years, but I don't think (at this point) that there are enough Americans concerned about rising sea levels to fund such expensive precautions. Some people are uneducated on the subject, others refuse to believe the crisis even exists, and then there are those who simply don't care. People tend to disregard future problems until the threat becomes present and it's too late to do anything about it.

David Johnson said...

I think now or the next few years would be a great time to enter the home and utlity moving industry, with all of the residences and infrastructure that will need to be relocated due to the sea level rise. These companies should be in high demand in order to stop further environmental problems associated with the rise.

Anonymous said...

I am especially intersted in this article being from a coastal town, Virginia Beach, and even more so living at the oceanfront and a bay. I can't imagine a three foot rise in water levels being something that scientists can stop, but I believe that we can make a difference by asking what the cost of items affecting the environment and not the price. The other scary part in this article is that airports and fuel refineries in the Gulf will be affected. This will obviously cause a national crisis, so the nation needs to be on alert about this problem not just coastal areas.

Andrew Gibbs

chris mobley said...

global warming and large amounts of co2 and other pollutants being emitted contribute to the problem of sea level rising. If we dont figure out a way to control this, everyone worldwide living in a coastal area will be displaced from their homes and have to relocate. This is the same as reducing the amount of land on an already over-populated earth. This could cause many more problems just due to the relocation and crowding of the places that these people choose to relocate to.

jonathan ziemba said...

It sure is going to be interesting to see how all the sea level rise works with ocean-side city's. I think we can't stop the rise before it takes our coasts but we can slow it down so that it all stops say 30 years from now. We are just going to have to deal with it coming into the city's. Hopefully we will still have beaches to go to without buildings in the water but thats the punishment we have given ourselves.