Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Nothing new under the sun

Global warming is old hat

With no apologies to Al Gore, “global warming” and the related expansion of the oceans or, but another way, the loss of land by rising waters, is nothing new.

I’m not going to write that those of us alive in the 21st century aren’t part of a global warming problem, but given the winter of 2012-13, I am forced to wonder if there really IS global warming – and if there is, is it as serious as Mr. Gore and his friends would have us believe.

For all that, according to the Florida Department of State Division of Historical Resources, Florida – the state I happily call “home” – used to be considerably wider.

The site, includes a graphic (below) of the state as it was in the Paleoindian Period.

Researchers contend that “The Paleoindians lived in a Florida twice the size it is today. At the time they lived, sea level was 60-100 meters lower, exposing vast expanses of the present continental shelf (Gagliano 1977; Blackwelder et al. 1979). Present-day coasts were inland, even upland, areas. The late Pleistocene shorelines in the Gulf of Mexico were located as much as 120 to 150 km seaward of their present locations. It is not difficult to see why Paleoindian period coastal sites have yet to be discovered in Florida-they are submerged beneath scores of fathoms of ocean water, tens of kilometers offshore (Stright 1986; Garrison 1989) .”

60 to 100 meters = ~197 to ~ 328 feet
120 to 150 km = ~ ~74.5 to ~ 93 miles

The issue that prompted me to revisit the map was an AdvisenFPN/New York Times article headlined Rebuilding the Shores, Increasing the Risks.

Essentially, the article was proposing that is someone insists on building in flood-prone areas, they should self-insure; they should not depend on the taxpayer to fund reconstruction.

In other words, if a person is so mentally deficient that he insists on building on sand or in a known flood plain, let that person either buy commercial insurance or self-insure. Federally subsidized flood insurance would be history. Likewise any federal or state monies to rebuild on flooded property.

That most definitely includes river bank properties and includes municipalities as well as private individuals and corporations.

The various governments could go a long way to reducing flood risk by planning and zoning restrictions. The problem here is that someone will scream “government interference in private matters.”

The elimination of government subsidized insurance and other financial assistance is not a new idea.

According to the NY Times article by Justin Gillis, the proposal was actually signed into law by President Ronald Reagan back in 1982.

“The law — the Coastal Barrier Resources Act — was intended to protect much of the American coastline, and it did so in a clever way that drew votes from the most conservative Republicans and the most liberal Democrats,” Gillis wrote.

According to Gillis, the ocean “rose about eight inches in the past century, requiring billions of dollars to fight erosion. Recently the rate of increase seems to have jumped, to about a foot per century — and climate scientists think it will go up quite a bit more. The cautious prediction at this point is that we could see two or three feet of sea-level rise by 2100, and possibly even six feet.”

That’s small potatoes compared with a 60 to 100 meters rise, but that was over the course of some 10,000 years. Still, it should be sufficient to discourage building along any coast line.

Inland, we know rivers overflow their beds and flood the adjacent lands. In Egypt, it’s the Nile. In the US it is almost every major river. Even in the desert wadis flood as snows melt in the spring; even Phoenix AZ has a flood problem. Will global warming reduce inland flooding (by reducing snow fall)?

Granted, this scrivener is unlikely to be around when the year 2100 is rung in – will that be the end of the 21st century or the beginning of the 22nd?

Perhaps we can’t stop oceans from rising, but we can, and should, take steps to protect the average taxpayer from paying to rebuild once or twice – in some cases many times – damaged-by-flood property.

No comments: