After Hurricane Sandy slammed into the East Coast just days before Election Day 2012, the media briefly became interested in climate change, which previously had been a strangely taboo subject. But after the winds, floods and high-water storm surge killed at least 85 people, knocked power out to millions of people and damaged property in nine states, climate change was rightly blamed for the unprecedented storm.
“We want our kids to grow up in an America that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet,” President Obama said in his victory speech.
However, that was weeks ago, and the Republicans in Congress have already turned their attention to the character assassination of Susan Rice and standing on soap boxes about how to avoid the fiscal cliff. The term “global warming” may have regained its relevance, but experts say it may already be too late to avoid the tipping point. Even as Manhattan still recovers from a 100-year flood that Gov. Andrew Cuomo stated the world is now seeing every few years, the fear is that urgency will dry up along with the floors of flooded skyscrapers.
According to a recent report quoted by the NY Times, 20,000 years ago, what is now New York City was at the edge of a giant ice sheet. and the sea was roughly 400 feet lower than today. It rose to current shorelines as the last ice age thawed. Now, the world is in a new warming phase, and the oceans are rising again after thousands of years of stability. Scientists who study sea level change and storm surge fear that Hurricane Sandy gave only a modest preview of the dangers to come, as the world shows no sense of urgency in reducing the burning of fuels that pollute the air with heat-trapping gases.
Experts at sealevel.climatecentral.org show jaw-dropping maps and graphics that reveal how coastal cities could be affected by the year 2020. New York changes could impact a population of 156,918 and 70,578 homes, covering 20,601 acres. Scientists say we have already lost our chance for complete prevention and the only way to protect global coastal cities from eventually become an Atlantis one by one, will be through cutting pollution and preparing for rising sea levels with retreat and preparation.
In addition, cities on the U.S. West Coast, like Seattle, will also face challenges of rising seas 50-75-100 years into the future if Arctic glaciers and sea ice continue to melt at the current rate.