The projections about sea-level rise -- when it will happen, how bad it will be and what it will cost to deal with it -- all seem, well, fluid.
The latest projections are not particularly encouraging, if -- like The Daily Green -- you call your home New York City, or any other city in the Northeastern U.S. or contiguous portions of Canada.
Earlier this month, scientists revised down their projections for sea-level rise from the melting of vulnerable portions of Antarctica -- but at the same time amplified their assessment of the risk to the Northeastern U.S. It has to do with the loss of gravitational pull from ice, but the end result is something like 11 feet more water lapping up against our coastlines.
Today, a new assessment from the other end of the Earth provides no greater assurances: The melting of the Greenland ice sheet suggest the Northeastern U.S. should prepare for nearly another three to five feet on top of that. As with Antarctica's contribution to sea-level rise, the meltwater from Greenland will affect the Northeastern portion of North America disproportionately (one or two feet more than the global average), according to the new study, published in Geophysical Research Letters. In this case, it isn't the gravitational pull of ice, but shifting ocean currents that will be to blame.
None of this will happen before about 2100, according to the latest projections. (A little voice in the back of my head keeps saying: "But all the previous predictions seem to have been too conservative!")
So there's nothing to worry about, right? Right, unless you care about your children and your grandchildren. The studies are another indication that we should do something to stop global warming. (Doing nothing will result in a 39% increase in carbon dioxide emissions worldwide by 2030, according to a new report.) And they are a reminder that city planners must prepare infrastructure for the eventuality of a higher sea producing destructive storm surges. These studies remind us that the cost of doing nothing about global warming are likely to exceed the cost of doing something.
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