Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Coastal living and sea level rise (12/16/2015)

While scenes like the pictures that I took below are idyllic, being on the hook (anchor for you non-boat people) in the York River in the middle of December, or me scrubbing my sail boat bare chested on Sunday morning in the middle of December in coastal Virginia is somewhat unheard of.  I guess it does happen, because Sunday evening my 88 year old father-in-law told us that he remembered that it happened once before some December day approximately 50 years ago (and I am too lazy to research what year that was).  I did hear on the Weather Channel and on the CBS news last night that this is the longest that Buffalo New York has ever gone without any snow in any winter since the start of record keeping in the late 1800s.

December 14, 2015, an early morning scene on the York River in Yorktown.
A ship on the hook and the sun is just coming up over the horizon.
The temperature was 61 degrees that morning, probably 20 to 30 or so degrees above normal for this time of the year.

Sunday December 13, 2015.  Scrubbing the Beagle.
I got so warm doing it, so I took my shirt off and I did it bare chested.
The temperature was 72 degrees.

But hopefully you get the message.  I was so happy when I heard about the climate accord in Paris this weekend.  I did not listen to the conservative pundits (no teaching up state so no travel in a car without satellite radio), but I can just imagine their discussions about a climate’s cyclical nature, the takeover by the United Nations etc., etc.  I did see a small article on how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell already promised that as soon as President Obama leaves office they are going to throw the deal out.  Here is another example of some criticism.

I know I should not get into the debate, I’m just a minor blogger who tries to show pretty pictures and talk about his teaching, stormwater, his sailing, coastal living, and his travels throughout Virginia; however, my teaching, stormwater, my sailing and my coastal living are all impacted by global warming, isn’t that the truth?  Take a look at the article about Tangier Island (or click on the next one as well).  I honestly hope to write a blog post from my sailboat when I visit Tangier Island next year (at least that is a cruise I would like to make), and yes, it will not disappear in the next few years.  But it still is serious, for the people living there, for our culture, as a colonial heritage site and as part of our history.  As both articles discuss, we really do not need to go to those poor Pacific Island Nations to watch them disappear with sea level rise, we can do that right here, in Virginia.

But then even closer to home, just two minor storm this September and October and we could not even get to our sailboat.  The marina was flooded.  Members of the club were forced out of their home and friends of ours who live in Poquoson on the water could not get in or out of their home, there was one to two feet of water in their yard and streets.  I can just imagine if the water levels rises a bit more over the years combined with the subsidence we will have in our area, particularly during storms.

October 2, 2015.  Flooding at the marina.  The Beagle is in the first slip on the left.  You had to go through almost knee deep water to get to the dock, and then you had to watch out for missing boards that had been pushed up by the rising water.
Oh of course, why should I care?  I’ll be long dead and gone before it would even affect me.  Very optimistically I may have 40 to 45 more years to live.  What can happen in those 40 or so more years?  Climate change is slow, so who cares?

I think that’s the problem we are facing.  Too many people are too cavalier about environmental issues.  We worry about the economy and saddling future generations up with our financial debts.  However, this environmental stuff is too touchy feely and more difficult to define; it does not touch our pockets or directly effects our livelihood, so we don’t worry about saddling future generations up with environmental debts, a.k.a. disasters, such a climate change, sea level rise, famines, desertification, you name it. But environmental debt may also translate into financial debt in the not so distant future, but that is so difficult to define.

I am still simply amazed how misinformed some people are, not informed at all, don’t care, don’t want to know, and of course some people are just plain partisan.  I am not sure if I captured them all here, but yes, even in this country you still run into people who have never heard or considered things like global warming or climate change.  Even if you believe it is cyclical, this is not a time to take things laying down.  How can you be so sure that humans are not aggravating, speeding up, or worsening this natural process?  Even over geological time it has never happened this fast except when there were meteor impacts or massive volcanic eruptions.  So can you be that sure that we humans are currently not "helping."  I strongly believe that we can try to minimize our impact and that we can try to anticipate what will happen and to preempt at least some of it or try to slow it down, instead of just rolling over and saying "so be it, it's natural." 

No comments:

Post a Comment