Tuesday, November 24, 2009

That sinking feeling

Another model shows that East Boston -- at least the residential parts of the neighborhood -- will be underwater by the middle of this century due to global climate change. (Logan Airport looks like it'll be in decent shape.) Other parts of Boston, including much of the downtown area, will also be inundated, with the overall loss in assets worth nearly a half trillion dollars.

While I try to take several steps to be a more judicious consumer of energy and I support big steps the government should take, I fully expect that human beings will be unable to gather the will to stop the planet's warming. Even as the effects of our actions become more visible and more calamitous, people will still put profit and convenience ahead of our common interests and our species' long-term survival, like the dying smoker who keeps puffing away even while carrying around an oxygen tank. We're doomed.

On the other hand, East Boston was created by connecting islands with landfill, and soon enough she will return to the sea. The hands of man can only hold off the hand of nature for so long.

Map from Boston.com.

1 comment:

N.starluna said...

First - climate change is real. The consensus is that climate change is already happening. There is nothing we can do to prevent it but there are changes that can and should be made to reduce climate change. We all should do our part in terms of doing all of those energy efficiency things, but the bulk of the change has to happen at the macro scale policy level.

However, a number of things need to be clarified. First, the picture that accompanied the article is not found in the report. It comes from another report written by other scientists that compares storm surge related flooding under different climate change scenarios. In short, the picture shows you the potential flooding that would occur in a 500 year storm event that occurred during high tide under the worst case scenarios of climate change. Certainly under this scenario, most of EB would be under water. Indeed, that isn't even the most up to date picture. The most recent modeling shows the airport under water as well.

Also, even that worst case scenario modeling does not (yet) tell us how much under water Boston or EB would experience. It only shows where the water will go.

The cited report is written using the tipping point theory. While there is consensus that climate change is happening and that it is generally human induced, there is not consensus on the tipping point theory, at least not on the details of the mechanisms.

Interestingly, there is nothing new in the cited report. The AR4 modeling has always shown an approximately 2 foot sea level rise in the Northeast. Indeed, there is not much work on micro scale modeling that exactly how Boston specifically (or EB) will be impacted. The work that does exist is rather course. As mentioned before, we know where the water will flow, but we don't know how deep.

With that said, I will admit that we will be likely be adding flood insurance to our homeowners policy next year.