Friday, February 6, 2009

Global Warming: What if Sea Rises 5 Meters?

According to NASA, the areas of south and eastern Florida shown in dark blue in the map would flood if the oceans rise 5 meters (16 ft).

Orlando is OK as is The Villages, where I live (Whew! - see my previous posting). However, quite a few folks in south Florida would have to move upstate, so I might have to learn Spanish.

Could Global Warming cause such a rise in sea levels?

Well, according to a report to be published today (6 Feb 2009) in the respected journal Science (according to e! Science News):

"If global warming some day causes the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to collapse, as many experts believe it could, the resulting sea level rise in much of the United States and other parts of the world would be significantly higher than is currently projected, a new study concludes. The catastrophic increase in sea level, already projected to average between 16 and 17 feet around the world, would be almost 21 feet in such places as Washington, D.C., scientists say, putting it largely underwater. Many coastal areas would be devastated. Much of Southern Florida would disappear. The report will be published Friday in the journal Science, by researchers from Oregon State University and the University of Toronto. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and other agencies from the U.S. and Canada." [emphasis added]

Our tax dollars at work!

I believe all this "Chicken Little" hoopla will be recognized as such within the next decade.

Don't get me wrong, I still think action should be taken to stabilize and possibly reduce the excessive spewing of carbon into the atmosphere due to burning previously-sequestered coal, oil and natural gas. I still think a revenue-neutral carbon tax is the best way to do it. But let us not overturn human civilization and further wreck the economy and rising living standards on these totally unjustified worries.

Ira Glickstein


JohnS said...

I have a serious problem with the speculations contained in the short paragraph in your posting. I always look for expressions such as if aaa happens then bbb could happen, or the use of words like may, possibly etc. These are hedge expressions. Or as you say: “If global warming someday causes the West Antarctic Ice Sheet to collapse, as many experts believe it could, the resulting sea level rise in much of the United States and other….” I don’t hear or read yyy will happen or by xxx, yyy will happen. Or carbon emissions will increase the temperature by xxx.
Yes, it could happen but what is the probability of it happening within our lifetime or the probability of it happening at all? Probably almost anything will happen if given enough time, the sun will explode and the earth will disappear, however do we need to fret about that? I don’t think so.
I do believe we are at the beginning of a global warming period, however in my opinion it is merely a natural cyclic period possibly increased slightly by our carbon emissions. From my readings over the years, I anticipate that we will have weather that is more violent during the warming and will see a shift northward of the growing seasons, which could prove beneficial. (Notice my hedges.)

Ira Glickstein said...

JohnS, thanks for your comment. The paragraph I quoted from e! Science News refers to a professional paper published in the respected journal Science. I have not read the paper, but I assume e! Science News has summarized it accurately.

Of course, as you point out, the paper in Science is totally speculative and full of weasel words such as "If ... someday ...". I could just as easily speculate "If there is a nuclear blast in Florida, my postings on this Blog will be radioactive ..."

I agree with you that we are in a global warming period that is mostly due to natural cycles of Solar activity and the Earth's orbit, and partially due to carbon emissions from human burning of previously-sequestered coal, oil and natural gas. The IPCC -Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change- believes the majority of recent global warming is human-caused.

The consequences, most of which we humans have no control over - and even those we do have control over are unlikely to be changed much due to economic and political forces - are going to be both beneficial (to some people in some areas) and disasterous (to other people in other areas).

On the beneficial side, increased CO2 helps plants respirate and could incease our food supply. On the negative side, further melting of the polar ice could raise sea levels and flood low-lying lands.

I take a positive attitude and hope the delay in solar cycle 24 (supposed to start at the end of 2006 and still not started) will reduce the Solar forcing a bit and slow down or stop global warming for a decade or two, giving humankind "breathing room" to develop alternative energy sources that are "green" as well as technology for conservation and efficiency.

We won't know for sure if we will get this relief, but, so far it is looking good. So, let us all hope the low sunspot period of the past two years persists.

Ira Glickstein

RofBeomax said...

Although 'catastrophe' as a word does not necessarily presume that an event be sudden, that is very common usage. Certainly the climate change media content is full of suggestions of 'tipping points' and 'irreversable' situations. It sure would sell more papers than 'Florida to be buried in seawater within 250 generations!!!!!'

If NOAA tidal reporting stations are useful, then it appears that most major US costal cities (including Honolulu and Anchorage as well as East, South and West coast cities) are rising at something like .3 mm / year and have been doing so for roughly 100 to 150 years at a pretty steady pace. If this rate doesn't change, we have less than 10,000 years to decide what to do about the coastline. (You can see graphs in Appendix II of 'Sea Level Variations of the US 1854-1999' at )

Even if the climate changes decides to go hockey-stick, I'd have hope that there would be time to at least move folks to higher ground, perhaps limiting the scope of the catastrophe.

And I think the number of informed scientists that now believe the hockey stick model is approaching the zero asymtote.

Ira Glickstein said...

Welcome back RofBeomax and thanks for your "catastrophe" Comment. I agree the seas, at some time in the far future, will probably rise 5 meters or more. When that happens, it will be a catastrophe for the folks alive at that time. That time will almost certainly be hundreds of generations from now.

Why does the media report these things? - because some "scientists" tell them we are near the "tipping point" where the slide will be irreversable.

The recent claim that part of Antarctica is warming (which may or may not be true) leads some scientist to calculate what sea rise would occur if part of the ice pack on Antarctica slid off into the ocean, and the number is five or six meters. The calculation is corrrect but the premise, a major part of Antarctical sliding off anytime soon, is preposterous.

You end your Comment with "And I think the number of informed scientists that now believe the hockey stick model is approaching the zero asymtote." I wish you were correct. The IPCC recently said the MAJORITY of global warming is due to the increase in greenhouse gasses due to human activities. Though temperature rise seems to have stabilised over the past few years, CO2 levels continue to increase at previous rates. If the IPCC is correct about human CO2 causing MOST of the warming, and if human-caused CO2 continues to rise as it will for the forseeable future, a runaway "hockeystick" rise in temperature is inevitable. I think most scientists who are willing to speak publically still believe this. I think they are wrong.

IMHO, the IPCC is wrong about the portion of global warming attributable to human activities. It is not a majority (i.e., not over 50%) but probably less than 10%. The major cause is variations in solar energy reaching the surface of the Earth and the distributon of that energy. I hope the next five or ten years will demonstrate that without any scientific doubt and then I will be able to agree with you about informed scientists who believe inthe "hockey stick" approaching zero.

Ira Glickstein

PS: If you send an email to me at with a brief bio, I will get Google Blogger to invite you to become an Author on this Blog. That will allow you to post without waiting for me to Moderate and you could also start a new Topic (New Post).