Sunday, January 28, 2007

California 100 Years Hence

Having lived in California for a number of years (before moving to Vermont), this article struck home with unusual forcefulness. It's one thing to speculate on the perils of global warming in the abstract or through effects-laden spectacles like The Day After Tomorrow. It something else entirely to hear sober planners and scientists describing San Francisco and Oakland International airports completely under water, flood surges that would place major highways under several feet of water, and beaches and wetlands disappearing as sea walls go up to try to keep the rising waters away.
At the Golden Gate Bridge, the Pacific Ocean crept seven inches higher during the past century, as global warming melted glaciers and expanded ocean waters.
According to the article, rising waters are proceeding at a pace equal to the worst-case scenarios predicted by scientist, which translates to a three-foot rise within a century.

This is disturbing news for anyone who lives near a coastal area, which includes a growing percentage of the world's population.
The number of people living within 60 miles of coastlines will increase by about 35 percent compared to 1995, the mapmakers say.

This type of migration will expose 2.75 billion people to coastal threats from global warming such as sea level rise and stronger hurricanes in addition to other natural disasters like tsunamis. A reminder of the risks of seaside living came this week in the form of a tsunami that killed at least 350 people and devastated many on Indonesia's Java Island.
One more indication of how inexplicable human behavior can be...