CRUCIAL GLOBAL WARMING FACT #8:

 

BUILDING CODES AND ZONING LAWS ALONG COASTLINES ARE HAVING TO BE COMPLETELY REWRITTEN, WITH TOTALLY DIFFERENT GOALS THAN BEFORE; AND, ANYONE WHO WANTS TO SEE ANY OF THE ISLANDS ALONG THE ATLANTIC OR GULF COAST HAD BETTER GO SOON.

 

 

 

​            To try to get at least somewhat ready to deal with the facts described above, government agencies with authority over coastlines are scrambling to try to figure out what to do, in the future. A good case study is offered by New York City. After Hurricane Sandy (in 2012) caused billions of dollars of damage (and more than 120 deaths) in New York and New Jersey, the planning and zoning agencies in and around New York harbor knew they had to do more, to get ready for future storms and hurricanes that will be even worse. So, they hired experts to provide their best estimates of how much the sea-water level likely will rise, in New York harbor, over the coming 50 years. They were hoping the answer would come back in the vicinity of, “Sea levels, here in New York harbor, are likely to rise about 4 inches, over the next 50 years.” But the answer they got from the experts was, “If you want us to project things out over the next 50 years, then, to be realistic, we need to warn you that sea levels, here in New York harbor, may rise by four FEET, within those 50 years.”

​            So, at that point, the planning and zoning agencies shifted any analysis and planning away from things like dikes, levees, and pumps, which might try to protect entire portions of New York City, and they took a totally different approach, which simply accepts that there is going to be repeated and chronic coastal flooding; and, therefore, the task now is to create different types of buildings which can withstand repeated flooding. To try to reach that goal, the new laws they will be using involves “zoning laws”, which impose new conditions on any new building that anyone wants to build, near a coastline.

          Their totally-revised “zoning law” approach now requires things like (paraphrased): “In any new buildings, the entire first floor, from ground-level up, has to be limited to things like parking, storage, and mechanical-type things that can be moved up to the second floor, or higher – preferably, with only one day’s warning, and by the building owner and/or tenants, without requiring a special work crew, since those kinds of crews might not be available when needed. And, the bottom floor must allow water to move readily into that bottom floor (to avoid creating water pressures which might cause the bottom-floor walls to buckle, fail, and collapse, which could destroy the entire building). And, any flood waters also must be able to leave that bottom floor, on its own, without requiring pumping, after a storm has passed.”

            Those zoning laws were passed, by New York, in March 2021, under the name, “Zoning for Coastal Flood Resiliency” (ZCFR). Summaries and copies can be downloaded from websites such as www1.nyc.gov/site/ planning/plans/ flood-resilience-zoning-text-update/flood-resilience-zoning-text-update.page.

            Lest anyone think that other coastal communities can simply take that same approach, to solve (or at least delay) THEIR problems, it should be pointed out that the New York City region can do that, because it has an exceptionally strong and solid granite foundation, directly beneath it. That granite layer is a crucial part of how and why New York City can have so many skyscrapers, so close to each other, while skyscrapers in numerous other places often have problems (the "Millennium Tower" in San Francisco is an example, and one should rightly wonder whether it will last even a century, let alone a millennium).

            The problem is, most other coastal communities are NOT built on foundations of solid granite. Many are built on `sedimentary rock’, which (as most people will recall from high school) is the type of rock that is formed when tiny particles (such as sand, which forms sandstone) or minerals (such as calcium, which forms limestone) carried by water become affixed to each other, over the course of geologic time. Along coastlines, sedimentary rock is common, since rivers tend to spread out into wide `delta’ areas as they approach an ocean or sea; that widening action causes the flow speed of the water to slow down; that reduced speed allows sediments to settle out of the water; and, over millions of years, some types of particles or minerals will bond to each other, in ways that form sedimentary rock.

          The problem is this . . . in the same way that water created sedimentary rock, water also can erode it, dissolve it, and destroy it. And, that is exactly what is already happening (and, at accelerating rates) to a whole lot of sedimentary rock, along major portions of America’s (and the world’s) coastlines.

            As just one example, pretty much the entire state of Florida sits on top of limestone, which can be dissolved by water, and that entire state has become badly pockmarked by growing numbers of large `sinkholes’ that have suddenly opened up, often in sizes that swallow (or at least destabilize, and often destroy) entire houses. Below is a map of sinkholes that already had appeared in Florida, before the year 2015. And, their rate of formation jumped to substantially higher levels after Hurricane Irma occurred, in 2017. In just the first year after Hurricane Irma hit Florida, more than 400 new sinkholes were reported (e.g., abcactionnews.com/news/region-pasco/experts-warn-number-of-sinkholes-in-florida-have-surged-since-hurricane-irma-hit).

 

 

 

            In addition, there are large stretches of America’s coastlines where the buildings don’t even sit on rock, at all; instead, they have been built on sand (often on top of so-called `pilings’, which usually are steel beams, sometimes encased in concrete, that have been driven a dozen yards or more down into the sand). Here's a picture which proves – still in the realm of hard fact – that a house can indeed be built directly on sand, on a beach:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

            That home was on the “Outer Banks” islands, off the mainland of North Carolina. Those islands are one of the greatest “second home” destinations anywhere in the world, and they are remarkably beautiful. So, anyone who wants to see those islands really should put it on their bucket list to go there, within the next few years. Because – and THIS is the turning point, between hard facts, as set forth above, and predictions about what is likely to happen, in the future – not all that many years from now, there likely will be more ugly wreckage and debris, from destroyed buildings, than natural beauty and charm. And, one might predict, with both logic and reason, that some of its roads and bridges may no longer be passable. Indeed, for anyone who knows what is actually happening, with sea level rise, it becomes an exercise in melancholy, and sadness, to simply but seriously ponder what the area in the map below (on the coast of North Carolina) will actually look like . . . 20 . . . or 30 . . . or 40 years from now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CRUCIAL GLOBAL WARMING FACT #9

(THE LAST ONE)

 

NEARLY 40% OF THE WORLD POPULATION LIVES IN “COASTAL COMMUNITIES”, WHICH WILL BE THE FIRST AREAS THAT WILL HAVE TO BE ABANDONED, AS SEA LEVELS RISE.

THAT’S ABOUT 3 BILLION PEOPLE, LIVING IN “COASTAL COMMUNITIES”

 

            This last and final “Crucial Fact” relates to population densities, along coastlines. For numerous reasons, coastal areas are much more densely populated than “inland” regions. Five major reasons include: (i) direct access to fishing, and food from the ocean; (ii) rich soil for crops, deposited by river deltas over millions of years; (iii) cheap and easy ways to dispose of garbage, sewage, etc.; (iv) easy ways to bathe, which helps reduce insects and pathogens; and, (v) the climate tends to be more pleasant near a large body of water, in any temperate or tropical zone, and even in many cold but sub-arctic zones.

            As a result, according to the 2017 UN Conference on Coastlines, about 40% of the entire world population (of humans) lives within about 30 miles (50 kilometers) of a coastline, even though that amount of area is only a small fraction of the earth’s total land surface.

            More importantly, when it comes to assessing the threats posed by global warming and sea level rise, the UN Conference adopted the phrase “coastal communities” to help it focus on cities, villages, etc. that are close enough to a specific coastline to be heavily and directly affected by it; and, they determined that 37% of the entire world population lives in what the UN Conference called “coastal communities.”

            Since 37% is almost exactly the fraction 3/8 (= 37.5%, to be precise), and since about 7.5 billion people live on this planet, today, NEARLY 3 BILLION PEOPLE, AROUND THE WORLD, LIVE DIRECTLY IN “COASTAL COMMUNITIES”.

          I have not found or seen a list of which major cities are classified as “coastal communities” as defined by the UN report, so I do not know whether cities such as Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, or Toronto (on the coasts of the Great Lakes), or cities such as Philadelphia, Houston, and New Orleans  (all at low elevations, only a few miles away from salt water) are included. However, even a brief mental review can remind anyone that most of the largest and most populous cities in the US (including New York City, Boston, Baltimore, Miami, New Orleans, Los Angeles, the entire San Francisco bay area, and the entire Seattle area) are all directly on salt-water coasts, and in other countries, nearly all of the most populous cities (including Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Mumbai (India), Karachi (Pakistan), and Lagos (Nigeria)) are all directly on salt-water coasts.

          In addition, anyone trying to understand what sea level rise will actually do, to literally billions of people, should take a look at this satellite picture of the Nile River delta, in Egypt, and think about what it shows, and means:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

          The city of Cairo  with multiple millions of people  sits mainly on the bottom third of that green triangle. And, because of how river deltas are formed (i.e., by silt and sediment dropping out, once the rate of flow of a river slows down, as it approaches the ocean), river deltas are always wide, and flat, with very low elevations.

          So, HERE is the transition point, in this Fact #9, between hard facts, as set forth above, and predictions about what is going to happen, in the coming years. If anyone wants to argue that any prediction set forth below, on the remaining part of this page, is illogical, merely speculative, and not strongly supported by both facts and reason, then they should explain why, and set forth their own predictions, to be judged  fairly and honestly  as the years go by, as people see what actually happens.

          Since river deltas are wide, and flat, and have low elevations (that much is fact, arising from how river deltas are formed), then, therefore, if sea levels rise by more than a foot, over just the coming 40 years (as they are predicted to do), the zone of damage, in the Nile delta, will not merely be a narrow strip of land, adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea. Instead, the salt water will push inland, into and across the wide, flat, low-elevation land that was created by slowly-settling sediment. The entire delta  and, the entire city of Cairo, even though it is not normally considered a "coastal community" by most people  is going to be in severe jeopardy.

          In addition, and equally important, ALL of the agricultural area that appears in green, in the photograph above, is likely to be flooded  recurringly, for a while, and then parts of it will be continuously flooded, after that  by salt water. And, salt water is very, VERY bad  `deadly' probably would be a better word  for the types of "crop plants" that must devote large amounts of energy, nutrients, and metabolites, in growing what is  for humans  the `food' part of the plant. Some types of weeds can grow reasonably well, in salty or `brackish' water (i.e., water with lower levels of salt than sea water); however, "crop plants" cannot, since they already are being pushed, pressured, and stressed  hard  to spend so much of their resources, growing their `food' parts.  So, the amount of crop plants, and food, which the Nile delta will be able to support and grow  which keeps literally millions of people alive, in cities like Cairo (and, in nearly every OTHER large city which is on or near a major river delta, anywhere in the world)  is going to be severely damaged, if not outright destroyed, just within the next few decades.

            The people living, not just next to the coasts, but in any and all low-lying areas near coastlines, will be severely and unavoidably affected, by sea level rise caused by global warming.

           And – returning to a `hard fact' as set forth above – there aren’t just a few hundred million of them. Instead, there are THREE BILLION of them. As stated above, nearly 40% of the entire world population lives in "coastal communities."

            As a result, HUGE numbers of people will be, quite literally, FORCED out of their homes (and livelihoods) in “coastal communities”, as those homes and communities become – in words that are both blunt and true, and yet, somehow, evasive and euphemistic at the same time – “no longer habitable.”

            When that happens, they will have no choice but to TRY to somehow move themselves, and their children and families, “inland”.

          And, as that happens, the following “predictions” will be seen, not as predictions, but as inevitable and unavoidable results, as surely as the prediction that if something heavy is thrown up into the air, it will fall back down to earth, on that very same day! The direct results of the disasters and catastrophes that will begin happening, when sea levels begin rising at the accelerated rates that this planet is heading toward, seem likely (read: unavoidably, and inevitably) to include each and all of the following:

            (a) The people being forced to leave “coastal communities” will be severely and even desperately hungry – if not during the first few days after they have left their homes, then, most certainly, within a few days after that;

            (b) Nearly all of them will be broke, with no savings whatever, since whatever they owned, while living on the coast, has been destroyed; and,

            (c) They will be very, VERY angry, and embittered, at losing their homes. Indeed, most of them will be quite convinced, in advance, that no matter where they might try to settle, they will be met with deadly resistance and violence; and, therefore, the only way to have even a chance to survive, in some hostile “inland” area, is by meeting (or, better yet, by anticipating) such violence, with violence of their own.

            Okay, then. Desperately hungry; forced out of their homes; broke; angry; and, ready to commit violence, and even to kill, when necessary. It’s difficult to think of a more effective combination, if the goal is to start not just one war, but dozens of wars, all at the same time.

            The Navy prefers to describe global warming and sea-level rise as a “catalyst for conflict”, and it’s not hard to figure out why they would choose the word ‘catalyst’. Very few Congressmen know what a catalyst actually is, but nearly all of them have some type of vague recollection of having heard the word (usually from a high school or freshman chemistry course, decades earlier), and they are vaguely aware that a `catalyst' can speed things up; so, they can nod their heads (and even mumble agreement, when appropriate) in ways that can make them appear knowing, and agreeable, when they hear a phrase like “catalyst for conflict”.

            But, in reality, one of the requirements for something to actually be a “catalyst” is that it cannot be consumed, or altered, by the chemical reaction which it catalyzes. And, it is hard to imagine anything not being “consumed”, when desperately hungry, broke, and angry people are forced out of their homes along a coastline, and are forced to march inward, and are forced to begin fighting and killing people who will – vigorously, and emphatically – not want to share anything with the . . . not just waves, but tsunamis . . . of refugees fleeing coasts that are “no longer habitable”.

            That situation will not be “a catalyst for conflict”; it will be a “recipe for disaster”. It would be more accurate and realistic to describe it as, “a runaway train with three billion passengers on it, hurtling at high speed, toward a cliff”, than to pretend – with politeness, diplomacy, and restraint – that, “well, yes, some of those types of conflicts might be catalyzed, and speeded up a bit, by those types of conditions.

            So . . . since the U.S. Navy knows what is happening, and can predict (with pretty good accuracy) what is going to happen next . . . taxpayers and voters need to begin asking, and insisting – and even demanding, if necessary – that the Navy should move past and beyond its historical desire to not confront and antagonize any Congressmen. If its officers and enlisted men truly want to serve America, defend democracy, and preserve our Constitutional form of government, they need to “tack” (a sailing term), and change course, and begin telling Congress – immediately, and in clear and even blunt and harsh terms – the painful and even horrible truth about what they expect to happen, as sea levels continue to rise (except, at even FASTER rates), in the ways that the Navy knows – perfectly well – are already happening.

 

            This marks the end of the “CRUCIAL GLOBAL WARMING FACTS” (nine, in all). So, this is a turning point. The things on the following pages are predictions, and do not claim or pretend to be facts.

            And, yet, even though the very nature and essence of science says that it cannot claim or pretend to “prove” anything which has not yet happened . . . science is, nevertheless, VERY good at making predictions.

            Before the actual predictions are set out, the next page explains how the terms “proof” and “prediction” are used in very, VERY different ways, by scientists (who want knowledge, and truth) versus politicians (who want power and control, even if they have to tell lies to get it).

COLLAPSED BEACH HOUSE.jpg
NC OUTER BANKS AREA.jpg
Florida sinkholes-map.png

Pre-2015 map of Florida sinkholes.

And, they have become MUCH more frequent since then (>400  in  2017-18)

Florida-sinkhole-pic.png

Picture of a Florida sinkhole.

With people standing on the side,

for scale.

Nile River delta.jpg
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