The North Carolina Coastal Resource Commission just finished the first study of sea level rise in the United States. The most significant part of the study was what the report said about what the market has decided about sea level rise.
... even if the public and governments drag their feet on reacting to a changing coast, others aren't waiting to adapt. State Farm, for example, announced this week that it will no longer write or renew insurance policies for structures on barrier islands to reduce its exposure in areas prone to catastrophic events like hurricanes.
Crossposted at Square State
Here is the real point of this story: that insurance companies, which are based on the so-called 'invisible hand of the free market,' have seen the writing on the wall and are no longer in the business of insuring new homes on the Outer Banks in my home state of NC.
This is the lesson I want deniers who are in positions of power in our government to hear: The market is denying your denial.
Capitalism is recognizing something you refuse to do, based mostly either on your ignorance or perhaps on your close ties to fossil fuel industry lobbyists. And when you protest with your bully pulpit, average people become misinformed and impede the ability for our leaders and governments to take action or achieve meaningful goals (hint: Copenhagen), even as science shows us that the earth is continually heating, and that this past decade was the warmest on record.
In the UK a similar study was recently completed
The report suggests private property owners “withdraw, relocate or abandon assets that are high risk." Residents on the east coast of the United Kingdom, in Norfolk, are also feeling the sting of abandonment from local and national governments in some coastal areas, which have been deemed too costly to protect.
More than 15 million people live near the U.K. coastline, but Britain’s Environment Agency has already said that the area known as the Norfolk Broads will probably be left to be reclaimed by the sea.
And their government is starting to plan a course of action:
About 10 million people in England and Wales live in flood risk areas.
The project, launched on Friday, is a joint venture between the Institution of Civil Engineers (Ice) and the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba). The report, Facing up to Rising Sea Levels, urges the government, planning authorities and the public, to act sooner rather than later.
"If we act now, we can adapt in such a way that will prevent mass disruption and allow coastal communities to continue to prosper," said Riba president Ruth Reed.
"But the key word is 'now'," she added.
The study warns that rising sea levels, an increase in the frequency of storms and sinking landmasses could leave many UK coastal areas vulnerable to extreme flooding.
Industrialized countries are planning their defense of coastal areas and acknowledge that this endeavor will be costly. Other countries in less prosperous economies,however, are struggling with facing this economic reality.
Here is one report on the changing coastline of Africa.
The United Nations estimates Africa has 320 coastal cities and about 56 million people living in "low lying" coastal zones, those less than 10 meters above mean sea level. Some expects say sea levels have risen by about 20 cm since the start of the Industrial Revolution in northern Europe.
That is no surprise to residents of Abidjan's Port Bouet, where abandoned concrete shacks litter the beach. Some have lost their front walls. Scaffolding is all that remains of others.
"Twenty years ago the sea was far away from here," said Samassa Awa, 39, an unemployed nurse whose wooden shack has been flooded by the Atlantic many times. "You see all these destroyed houses? Many people fled but we decided to stay."
"We want the authorities of the world powers to come and rescue the poor people from the sea," said Diakite Abdullaye, 46, looking over his shoulder at the ruins of a house he said had already been destroyed by the advancing ocean.
"If they can't stop the sea rising, then help us move somewhere else," said the resident of Ivory Coast's biggest city.
Mozambique has been identified as one of the countries likely to be affected most by climate change, and the issue will not go away. Much of what Mozambique would like to do is deemed too expensive. While scientists cannot give an exact figure of how much the sea has already risen in Mozambique, the effects are already obvious.
"I went to the beach a lot as a child, and I've noticed things are changing," said 34-year-old Jose, who lives in Maputo.
"The water is eating the land - little by little it's eating the land."
Mozambique has compiled an action plan, and has been offered help from the World Bank, UN agencies and a plethora of other aid agencies.
But so far little has been done, and much of what the country would like to do is beyond its budget.
"I think people are still at the stage of 'Oh my God - what are we going to do?'" as environmentalist Antonia Reina puts it.
And while too much water is an issue for Coastal inhabitants, not enough water is the other issue for many other people who rely on glacial melt for fresh drinking water - such as in Bolivia, where Scientists recorded the first glacier to 'disappear' from existence this past year.
Or in news closer to home, The Winter Olympics in Vancouver are having to use trucks to bring in Ice and Snow for their downhill skiing competition because it has been too mild for snowfall.
Winter Games officials have given up on any help from Mother Nature and will now be trucking in snow for the freestyle skiing and snowboarding events at Cypress Mountain, on Vancouver's North Shore....
Mild temperatures and heavy rains earlier this month forced officials to close the mountain ahead of schedule, as snow gave way to mud.
I find it to be the ultimate irony, that at the gathering of the world's countries to compete for Winter Sports, the phrase "giving up on Mother Nature" is being used. How much of Mother Nature's failure will we have to see before we realize what's going on?
It seems clear from reading these reports, that action to address these crises needs to start sooner rather than later.
However, the United States is home to some of the leading stalwarts of climate change denial and are increasing the severity of the problem.
In my other home state of Colorado - Rep. Dave Schulteis has proudly proclaimed why he has decided to vote against Martha Rudolph's appointment to the Executive Director of the Department of Public Health and Environment:
1) Is there an issue with global warming...and is it caused by humans? Her answer to both related questions was an unqualified "yes."
2) Does she consider CO2 to be a pollutant? Her answer: It is a contributor to Global Warming, although it does not fit easily into the federal Clean Water Act...
...Based on her answers to the committee, I voted NO and will debate these issues on the full floor of the Senate when this comes to the full Senate for confirmation
I included this local story, because it seems in every state across this nation, there is a vocal global warming denier making news.
And with the recent Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited corporate spending on political campaigns, the strength of the global fossil fuel lobbying campaign to impede meaningful legislation on Climate Change just got a whole lot tougher.
I take comfort in this video made by Peter Sinclair who debunks climate denial myths.
The point of this video indicates that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2007 report discloses that it does not take into account "Rapid Dynamical Change in Ice Flow" - an event where glacial instability tips out of control and melts uncontrollably. This is what scientists are now coming to grips with, that the glaciers on Greenland and Antarctica are destabilizing at an exponential rate.
We have had a period of "Rapid Dynamic Change in Ice Flow". The last time we had such an event was 14,000 years ago (12,000 BCE) when Ice sheets suddenly destabilized - this was called the 'Meltwater Pulse 1-A' and in a rapid period of time sea levels rose 75 feet to their current level - which some scientists have speculated could have been caused by an impact from space, but the verdict is still out.
(Perhaps not too coincidentally, this is the same date of the massive die off of species in the Western Hemisphere such as the American Horse, Giant Sloth, Sabre Tooth Cat, Dire Wolf, and perhaps most famously, the Great Mastodon - one instance where I believe man has been wrongly blamed for the extinction of species of animals)
This event of worldwide sea level rise, I believe, is most likely the common event that is recorded worldwide both in oral and written tradition as the "Great Flood."
We are approaching another epic event, and it is now on the horizon, begging us to mitigate it's affects.
I have been frustrated by the lack of response by governments to address the threat to the millions of people that are already being displaced on low lying islands and who have no legal status as 'Environmental Refugees' - and even started a petition to remedy this issue of legal limbo. For their sakes, when our legislators realize that their beach houses are going to be threatened, or their ski slopes will be bare, then they will start thinking about the true human cost of their denial of the truth.
The inaction of these legislators on Climate Change may not be shameful to them, but in the future their children and their grandchildren certainly will discover they have been denied an honorable namesake.