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Thursday, July 23, 2015

New York City: We Hardly Knew You

If you want to see New York City, do so soon. It's not going to be a viable city for too much longer.

Climate scientist James Hansen and fellow scientists have just published a forecast for sea level rise that says sea levels are likely to rise by 50 feet in the next 50 years. This will flood New York City and many other coastal cities around the world. The first to go will likely be Miami, which regularly sees flooding at high tides right now.

The UN's IPCC is wrong in assuming that seas will only rise 3 feet this century. Instead, the rise is likely to be much more. Hansen et al. have studied what happened the last time CO2 was at this level: seas were much higher. This was during the last interglacial period called the Eemian. The UN thinks we should keep the total rise in Earth's temperature to 2°C over pre-industrial levels, but that would result in a 50-foot rise in seas if Hansen's group is right. Hansen's paper proposes that we keep the rise to just 1½°C. But, since the temperature of the Earth has already risen about a degree already, that leaves just ½°C for temperatures to rise. Moreover, given the level of CO2 in the atmosphere already, most of that is already “baked in the cake.”

Only an immediate reversal of CO2 emissions and return to lower levels can possibly head off these catastrophic sea level rises. This would include a moratorium on building new coal-fired generators as well.

A reasonable person can only conclude that humanity has set its course for disaster and will not turn away from the consequences of both greed and folly. The politicians have lied to us for years about why they cannot take action to avert disaster. Maybe it will soon be time for the population to take action to punish those who have set humanity on this course.