“All Politics is Local” – As global warming and climate change impact everything from oceans to prairies to peoples around the world, our “local” is the whole of the United States of America.
Water Wars & water wars
Disputes over water are as old as sand and… well… water, and they’re not about to dry up. Rapidly expanding and worsening effects of global warming and climate change are going to make them more intense and violent, to the point where they’ll likely be state-sponsored.
The climate crisis is affecting waterways, natural water-holding bodies, the severity of weather events and climate conditions around the world. Even as ocean levels rise, fresh water is becoming scarcer and ever more valuable to people and nations. Scientists tell us these conditions are worsening.
As they do, “water wars” changes from a mere euphemism for neighborly disagreements to “Water Wars,” armed conflicts between nations.
Not so subtly in some places. Low places. Places that’re getting lower still every day.
Like the Florida Keys. For undeniable evidence of rising seas, one need look no farther than the Keys.
And to paraphrase Dylan, all the gold and silver are, indeed, being stolen away.
Climate Change Floods Jimmy Buffet’s Backyard
Numerous news outlets recently covered some “hard decisions” that need to be made in the Florida Keys, specifically in Monroe County. The Miami Herald headline was representative of those from The New York Times, The Weather Channel and other outlets:
“At $60 million a mile, the Keys may abandon some roads to sea rise rather than raise them.”
That’s a lot of gold and silver.
The only words missing from the headline are “global warming caused,” as in “global-warming-caused sea rise.”
The body of the story makes the connection clear, however:
“Few places around the country have stopped servicing roads because of climate change, and it could lead to a legal backlash from homeowners who can no longer access their homes.”
And this quote, from Rhonda Haag, Monroe County’s head of resilience, succinctly sums up the big picture:
“Are we really going to spend $128 million to elevate three miles of road where 30 people live? It’s not up to me, but I don’t think so.”
The Rate At Which Oceans are Rising is Rising, Too
Unfortunately, with climate-change-driven sea rise on the rise, the Keys are only the proverbial canary in the coal mine for the United States.
Hundreds of miles of shoreline and inland areas are threatened already, and thousands more will be as global warming continues to cause ocean level increases.
In June of this year, USA Today published a list of 35 U.S. cities projected to “experience chronic flooding by 2060,” based on a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Miami Beach tops the list. Hampton, Virginia is #34. New York’s Long Beach is #30. The Upper Keys, Lower Keys and Key West are all in the top 10.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “In urban settings along coastlines around the world, rising seas threaten infrastructure necessary for local jobs and regional industries. Roads, bridges, subways, water supplies, oil and gas wells, power plants, sewage treatment plants, landfills – the list is practically endless – are all at risk from sea level rise.”
“This acceleration, driven mainly by increased melting in Greenland and Antarctica, has the potential to double the total sea level rise projected by 2100 when compared to projections that assume a constant rate of sea level rise”
So, thanks to man-made climate change, not only are earth’s oceans rising, the rate at which they’re rising is rising, too.
This is happening. Faster and faster. Every day.
Before long, due to accelerating sea rise from climate change, officials in more places like Monroe County will be facing hard decisions that pit the costs of public infrastructure against the needs of individual home- and business owners.
Regardless of which way the winds of these momentous decisions blow, more gold and silver will be stolen away every single day.
The Big Easy Won’t Have It Easy
There have been other canaries in other coal mines, but, as a whole, the U.S. citizenry and leadership has blown off the early warnings.
Case in point, New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
In September 2005, 17 days after Katrina devastated The Big Easy, then-President George W. Bush stood in the French Quarter and made this promise:
“Throughout the area hit by the hurricane, we will do what it takes. We will stay as long as it takes to help citizens rebuild their communities and their lives. And all who question the future of the Crescent City need to know: There is no way to imagine America without New Orleans, and this great city will rise again… the passionate soul of a great city will return.”
The speech was good politics, and the questions being asked by newspeople and “regular” folks were politically correct:
How long will it take to rebuild New Orleans?
How soon will the people of New Orleans be able to return to their homes?
What’s it going to cost to rebuild New Orleans, and where will the money come from?
Good politics. Political correctness. Wrong questions.
As with anyone who had a heart, mine went out to the citizens of New Orleans, greater Louisiana and other impacted areas. But, I thought, “They’re not asking the right questions.”
The question of the day should not have been how long, how soon or how much. Instead, newspeople and pundits should have been talking about global warming and climate change, and in that context asking the more basic question:
“Should New Orleans be rebuilt?”
Here we are, nearly 15 years later, and unless science and engineering come up with some seriously innovative solutions, the answer will turn out to be a resounding “No.” Sadly. Because huge swaths of New Orleans will be uninhabitable by 2050, and likely will be completely underwater by 2100.
How High’s the Water, Mama?
Johnny Cash inevitably comes to mind. The Man in Black shouts a prophetic warning from the grave –
How high’s the water, mama?
Five feet high and risin’
How high’s the water, papa?
She said it’s five feet high and risin’
Well the rails are washed out north of town
We gotta head for higher ground
We can’t come back till the water goes down,
Five feet high and risin’
Unfortunately, even now, after all the warnings from scientists and marches by world youth and international climate change summits, the message is falling on too many Americans’ deaf, self-deceived ears.
A hard rain’s gonna fall. A harsh wind’s gonna blow. And there ain’t gonna be no goin’ back for people in coastal areas of the United States or around the world.
Global warming truly is laying cities and regions low. And earth’s citizens, whether it’s those who continue to deny climate change or those of us who have been unable to convince, force or shame our leaders into crucially needed action… we will be laid the lowest of all.
DemCastUSA published this post on Jan. 19, 2019. Check it out.
The next generation has been waiting, watching, listening… and getting frustrated about the lack of action on climate change by governments around the world. Now they’re taking the lead.
More Kudos to the Kids
Tomorrow is a big day for the planet.
The kids are stepping out and speaking out once again. They’re demanding action on global warming and climate change. They’re sick and tired of waiting around for my generation and the one before it to do all the things that should’ve long since been done.
This time it’s being billed by some as a “coming out party” for the international Youth Climate Strike, a movement that started with a 15-year-old girl who’s had enough.
I’ve written about the lawsuit before, giving the kids behind it a shout-out. Today, once again, I say…
Kudos to the Kids!
The youth of the United States and the world have been gathering steam for several years now, beginning even before 21 of them filed suit against the U.S. government for not acting on what it knew about global warming and its effects.
New climate change legislation championed by the Citizens’ Climate Lobby and introduced by three Democrats and two Republicans is a reasonable approach. We need to support it, call our representatives about it and talk about it with our neighbors.
New Legislation Backed by Members of Both Major Parties
You have to admire the audacity of the four volunteers from Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) who recently completed a “Climate Conversation Tour” of North Dakota.
This is a deep red state; 63 percent of voters here cast their ballots for Donald Trump in 2016. And Trump is the world’s most devout fossil fuel apostle, its greatest denier of human-caused global warming.
“I don’t believe it,” he infamously said a couple of weeks ago when the Fourth National Climate Assessment produced by 13 U.S. federal agencies provided a dire assessment for the United States.
“The report found that climate change will cost the US hundreds of billions of dollars annually and damage health,” the BBC reported.
Even so, the CCL volunteers – Paul Thompson and Mindy Ahler from the CCL’s North Wind Region and Brad and Linda Kingery from the Bemidji, Minn. chapter – came to North Dakota for six events in four communities to spur discussion about climate change and let people know about Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s efforts.