Coastal predictions are getting worse and worse, according to a study released on Oct. 29, “New elevation data triple estimates of global vulnerability to sea-level rise and coastal flooding” by Scott A. Kulp & Benjamin H. Strauss in Nature Communications volume 10, Article number: 4844 (2019).
The authors show that even under a low emissions scenario (and good luck with that one, when emissions are rising every year), about 190 million people currently live below what will be the high tide levels of the year 2100.
Under a high emissions scenario, the number of people living today under the 2100 high tide level rises to 630 million people.
Hundreds of millions more people today live close enough above that high tide level to be in danger. These projections don’t take into consideration the ravages of future erosion as the water advances or the possible collapse of coastal defenses, which already protect some 110 million people living below the high tide level (as in New Orleans and much of the Netherlands).
The study finds that “more than 70% of the total number of people worldwide currently living on implicated land are in eight Asian countries: China, Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Japan.” Although devastating for those countries, is that better news for the rest of the world? Hardly, because those Asian countries are already overcrowded. As oceans rise, those hundreds of millions of people will seek to emigrate elsewhere.
The new analysis shows oceans rising by about 2 meters in the next 80 years: today’s children will likely see this happen. Does anyone wonder why Greta Thunberg is upset with today’s “world leaders”?
It is pretty obvious that when hordes of desperate people flooded out of Bangladesh and Vietnam push up the Ganges and Mekong Rivers and try to enter India and China, trouble will result on a scale that makes the current migrations out of the Middle East and Latin America look like a warm-up exercise.
One of the accompanying maps shows “Current population on land below projected mean higher high water level in 2100 assuming intermediate carbon emissions (RCP 4.5) and relatively stable Antarctic ice sheets (sea level model K14)”:
Yellow shows highest numbers of people affected, with the scale ranging from 1 to 100,000,000. Where will all the forced emigrants go? The two countries with the fewest “exposed,” Finland and Congo, in dark blue on the map, seem unlikely destinations. The US’s yellow-green is nothing to boast about either; dislocations will occur and Florida, where most people live along the shores, will lost its status as a highly populated political swing state, since much of it will be underwater.
Today’s excuses — reducing greenhouse gas emissions would be inconvenient for our life styles or would cut into a few industries’ profits (download RAN’s “Banking on Climate Change” to see banks that do the most to finance fossil fuel industries) — will soon look idiotic on the scale of global inconvenience that is already underway.
If people can’t control their greenhouse gas emissions, can they control their rate of reproduction? Purposefully and peacefully reducing the globe’s population by 630 million before 2100 seems far preferable to having that many people forced to relocate within a shrinking land mass that is already occupied by people who will defend their own space.
You’ve probably been to Cape May County NJ. The news is not good. Here is a map from NOAA’s sea level rise map viewer showing the effect of a rise in high tides of 6 feet (thus, about 6 inches less than the projected 2 meters). Deep blue shows areas substantially under water; light blue shallower water; but all blue areas will be uninhabitable. Cape May Point will be gone (following South Cape May, which was washed away in 1944), and the Atlantic beach will be about where today’s Garden State Parkway is.
Why combine these 2 topics? Because Saturday was the International Day of Peace, and we can’t be at peace with nature if we aren’t at peace with ourselves and other people.
The theme for the day set by the refrain of one of Rev. Dan Schatz’s songs at the beginning: “I ain’t gonna be treated thisaway.” Who is the persona? People, Mother Nature? The generation of today’s children?
Longtime environment activist mayor Dianne Herrin welcomed the crowd and remarked how far Climate Action has come since Greta Thunberg was sitting on the sidewalk by herself in front of her Stockholm school.
Activist Jen Karsten challenged us not to be lulled into complacency, not to be satisfied with doing small things but to be bold.
Maurice M. Sampson II , Clean Water Action’s Eastern Pennsylvania Director, celebrated West Chester’s recent passage of an ordinance to ban single-use plastic bags and straws. Sometimes, he said, the “reasonable” case for deferring action must be rejected.
Representative Carolyn Comitta (PA House 156) introduced 12-year-old activist Isaac Harte, who spoke to how the young can model sustainability for their elders, by recycling, growing food, composting, taking public transportation….
For pipeline opponent Ginny Kerslake’s words, see here.
Senator Andy Dinniman (PA Senate 19) deplored the way decisions are made in Harrisburg, which for environment is worse today than when he started there in 2006. Powerful interests rule there; and “nothing except a united voice is going to change it…. You have the power to stand up to those corporations…. We do have the power to make American democracy work….”
Finally, former West Chester Mayor Jordan Norley paid tribute to what we have in common: Mother Earth. Every individual makes some impact on the planet; every generation feels the impact of what we do. And wrapping up the day’s themes: “In sustainability we find peace.”
On September 27th, the anniversary of Silent Spring, there will be a General Strike to Save the Planet! We invite students to strike on this day and not attend school to draw attention to the growing climate problem.
Climatologists worldwide have shown beyond a doubt that Earth’s climate is changing, and human industry is responsible. Unless we take immediate action, this trend is slated to continue at an accelerating pace, leading us – every human and animal on the planet – to a state of climate catastrophe.earth-strike.com
To learn more about Earth Strike, visit earth.strike.com. More info regarding events on this day in West Chester will be posted as the date approaches.
Don’t forget to come tomorrow to the Global Climate Strike in West Chester. It starts at 11:00 am at the Chester County Courthouse. We want to show the politicians that there are people out there who care for the future of our planet and are even willing to skip school or work.
After the rally there is going to be an information event from 1:00 – 2:30 pm at the Academic Quad on the Campus of West Chester University. Bring your strike signs and a lot of motivation!
And if you’re still motivated, join us during the International Peace march on Saturday. At noon there is going to be a peace commemoration at the Courthouse and at 2:00 pm the Climate Action and Peace Rally starts.
Grab some friends and come to these important events. Time is running out – we need to act now!
Sept. 21 is International Day of Peace, whose theme this year is Climate Action. Peacefulness toward people and life implies treasuring our shared home: earth and the climate that nourishes it.
West Chester Green Team and allies are hosting a rally at the Courthouse with some great speakers, followed by a march 5 blocks down S. High St, and more events at the Unitarian Congregation.
download pdf here: https://wcgreenteam.files.wordpress.com/2019/09/climate-peace.pdf
In May of this year, the UN released another alarming report on species extinction – but almost no one in the media is talking about it. Only 19 of the top 50 US newspapers covered the report.
The UN released a partial report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) – “Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’, Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’, Current global response insufficient; ‘Transformative changes’ needed to restore and protect nature; 1,000,000 species threatened with extinction”.
Then, Public Citizen did a study on the top 50 major US newspapers, to find how this report was being covered in the media. Shockingly, 31 of those outlets had no coverage on the report at all! Here is a total summary of their findings:
- Thirty-one of the top 50 papers did not cover the U.N. report in their print editions.
- The remaining 19 papers produced 48 total pieces that at least referenced the U.N. report.
- Among pieces that covered the report, 67 percent connected the possible extinction of one million species to the climate crisis.
- The Washington Post produced the most coverage with nine pieces, including three columns and an editorial.
- Twenty-nine percent or 14 of the articles were reprints from other publications or wire services. Eight of these 14 reprinted an Associated Press article by Seth Borenstein.
- Eight papers editorialized on the report: the Houston Chronicle, The Los Angeles Times, the Miami Herald, The New York Times, Newsday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Virginian-Pilot, and The Washington Post.
- Forty percent of pieces on the U.N. report discussed how we can prevent such a massive loss of biodiversity, including by mitigating climate change.
- Twenty percent of pieces discussed barriers to saving threatened species, such as efforts by the Trump Administration to weaken the Endangered Species Act.
- Just one mention of the report, in the “Fake Test” section of the New York Post, was dismissive of the findings.
- A total of 30 letters to the editor referencing the report were published among 13 of the top 50 papers.
The IPBES report contains vital information that needs to be shared with the public. It “also presents a wide range of illustrative actions for sustainability and pathways for achieving them across and between sectors such as agriculture, forestry, marine systems, freshwater systems, urban areas, energy, finance and many others”. To read the U.N.’s partial release of the report, please see here.