Amsterdam – Oceans Rise


Science news reports and TV specials surfacing lately have been focusing on rising ocean levels. Islands especially are in jeopardy. This post looks at a country I visited one very rainy week in November that leads the way in trying to solve the fierce ravages of rising water. If the images appear dreary rather than pretty, it is a dreary subject.


So What’s Happening Around the World?

The post came about after watching the Weather Channel’s extreme weather shows this past weekend; one on Alaska “sinking”; another on New Orleans both sinking and losing the protecting, buffering wetlands; most chilling, a look at past hurricanes in Louisiana/Mississippi and what to expect in the 50 year future; and finally, another on Alaska forest fires. There is no shortage of weather calamities. These events… no one really wants to look in the mirror, facing the harsh truths of the world is not for the weak.


Ironic, weather and water (or the lack of water) seems to be a common thread in all the shows. The devastation hits a raw nerve, but we watch and move on to happier thoughts. In time though, it might be harder to ignore.

The oceans are rising at an alarming rate. A look at the Arctic and Antarctic are proof positive for a warming climate and rise in sea level. All the coastal locations are quite different, yet all seem to be facing similar destructive outcomes – losing land mass due to massive flooding and encroaching sea.

How to Stop the Hurricanes?

The particular story on New Orleans had a proposed solution to warming ocean water initiating the development of hurricanes. Through technology, they propose to cool the ocean surface in the path of a hurricane by a few degrees, hoping this will make the hurricane disperse or lessen in intensity.

My first thought was, what happens to the marine life, knowing fish are very sensitive to sudden temperature change?  Other methods have been proposed as well.


All this ‘bad news” makes me wonder why anyone would want to live on the coastline of just about anywhere.

There is no stopping the ocean rising, and little that can be done to mitigate wind-driven water. To me, it seems rather unscientific to try to solve problems without addressing the root of the cause first. Technology and innovation are what leads us to many of the problems we face. It helps allow the population explosion to continue unabated for one.


As We Travel…We Learn More

In Amsterdam, our guide was a bit mocking of how New Orleans handled Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He said their Danish dikes/levee building was far superior and “that would never happen in his country”. But they don’t get hurricanes as far as I could research. Observing rising sea level predictions might make him think differently. The Netherlands might be a bit more vulnerable since their coastal country has much of its land mass currently below sea-level.

Note the houses in the gallery above. They are built on wooded poles and many lean to one side. Some are intentionally built to lean forward to improve the functionality of the furniture hook. Crooked houses…? Sinking houses?

Projections on maps have the Netherlands almost disappearing. Rotterdam lies behind several hundred kilometers of dykes, with a network of sluices, locks and barriers. Yes, they have made living there quite possible.


They designed some of the best sea defenses only breached by a one-in-10,000-year storm, according to engineers. Always innovating, Rotterdam is trying to make itself climate-proof, able to withstand whatever the weather delivers by 2025. This is a case of technology helping for today and in the near future, but also creating a never-ending web of innovation to address problems they cannot ultimately solve.

The Army Core of Engineers in our country are not yet prepared for a hurricane of greater magnitude than Katrina (from the TV show), and New Orleans’s residents don’t want higher taxes to help advance study either. Pretty grim as the show explained.


While our guide was a bit pompous, the Netherlands have foresight to plan ahead. Hurricane Katrina’s devastation was the impetus for them to make further engineering improvements and discoveries.


Can we learn from them as my guide suggested? Most certainly. But eventually, rising oceans are happening much faster than previously predicted, then who knows?

What’s in store for coastal nations:

  • Bigger, higher sea barriers.
  • Widen rivers, reinforce the coastline with sand and start building floating homes.
  • Use technology to provide an early warning system and evacuation plan.

I think an evacuation plan is in order since millions of people will be displaced. The millions withdrawing from Syria would pale in comparison.


Amsterdam is an environmentally conscious, green city, filled with colorful, crooked houses. They certainly are much better prepared than are we in this country. Even the gardens are on boats!

Coming up for a month and a half, a flurry of gardening posts to help get your garden going this season.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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18 Responses to Amsterdam – Oceans Rise

  1. alesiablogs says:

    I was visiting an old stomping ground of mine 2 weeks ago on the Wainae Coast on the island of Oahu. A barrier was built in what looks like 1959 according to the date on the wall itself. It is now corroding due to higher waves, etc. About a month ago, the island which hosts the surf competition on the North Shore saw swells up to 70 feet. This delayed the competition and it also destroyed part of the wall I saw on the Wainae side of the island. It had been 50 years that the island saw such waves according to sources I spoke with while visiting. In regards to Holland’s innovation– some of my own family is dutch. They are pretty smart!!

  2. swo8 says:

    We will adapt, Donna, as we must.
    I’m looking forward to your gardening posts. I’m itching to get out there. I’ve already bought a lovely Hydrangea to plant. Hope to get some Easter Lilies to plant in the garden too.

  3. The crooked houses and the garden boats are very colorful. I can’t imaging living in those houses on the water like that. They have to be damp and musty all the time.
    Interesting and thought-provoking article.

  4. Very good points about the rising oceans, and your photos of Amsterdam are delicious. I’m just returning from a trip to San Diego–not quite as exciting as Europe, but it was wonderful and educational, too.

  5. arlene says:

    The scenario on climate change is a little frightening. Will you be joining and observing the earth hour tonight?

  6. Very informative and I have been researching about the Netherlands and that region for my story. Yes, I think we can learn a lot,even in the UK just across the sea from the Dutch. There are so many challenges to be met and there seem to be too many politicians hell bent on distracting us from these in the UK and USA.

  7. Climate is a complicated issue. Instead of ignoring science, it seems that Europeans are turning to science for answers.

  8. Indie says:

    Climate change is very scary indeed, with the intensity of storms and calamities it brings. It seems dangerous to live so close to the water like that. I was listening to a podcast the other day where someone was suggesting that everyone should plant lots of trees to help cool things down. That idea seemed much more in keeping with nature, though we would need a staggering amount of trees planted indeed.

  9. Karen says:

    A very interesting post, Donna. While the Danish are very well prepared, they certainly do have lots of buildings right at the water’s edge. I’ve learned one thing, never say never.

  10. Les says:

    After New Orleans, Norfolk is next in the line of American cities most at risk to sea level rise. We are also sinking as a result of glacial subsidence, and for building on top of former wetlands. Already there are neighborhoods in the city, including my own, where people are raising the foundations of existing houses. The city has also begun to determine which neighborhoods might best be saved and which may have to be let go. They have created a resiliency department, and have consulted with the Dutch in their planning process. I am glad it is not being ignored, but at an average elevation of only 7′, I only have a modicum of hope. When we retire I am looking at places on the front side of the Blue Ridge, far from the coast.

  11. Beautiful city Amsterdam… It’s been 25 years, but I remember it vividly.
    Have a beautiful weekend, Donna! 🙂

  12. This is a serious issue but I was enthralled with all your photos. Took me back to the time when we lived near Amsterdam. The places you stood to take those photos are all too familiar. Another interesting place is Almere, the Netherlands newest city, built on reclaimed land from the IJsselmeer. I believe the first house was built there in the late 70’s. Not as beautiful as Amsterdam with all the historical homes and canals but interesting with all the newest technology.

  13. A.M.B. says:

    I hope it’s a subject people can’t ignore. The pictures are fascinating. I didn’t realize the houses were leaning. Interesting.

  14. debsgarden says:

    Your photos of Amsterdam are charming! Building in coastal areas below sea level is always risky, but we think our technology can overcome such obvious folly. Most of the time it works, but Katrina taught us some valuable lessons.

  15. diggingher says:

    Interesting post. Educational. Thanks.

  16. I live on an island, so sea level rise is a serious issue. Tasmania is the southernmost place in Australia. We are already seeing the result of rising sea temperatures, with new creatures arriving and the impending threat of others running out of cool enough water in coastal areas as they move down Australia’s eastern shores. Not only that, our hydro dams are nearly out of water and we will be partly relying on diesel generators soon. We have also had the worst wildfires ever, with thousands of hectares of irreplaceable alpine flora destroyed Tasmania is the canary in the mine, demonstrating the looming collapse of ecosystems. We ignore it at our peril.

  17. Lula says:

    Indeed it is a very serious issue and Dutch are already working on it. Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities, where in past years I have spent some time and I am planning to stay for some time in the near future. The Netherlands have been facing a very tough history, they still remember the devastation of many cities after WWII and especially the floods of 1956. They decided to re-build their nation with ingenious engineering and when you visit Amsterdam you can learn about the many inventions the are working on to keep their cities afloat. This a very severe case study, but is not the only one and it should rise the case for more work on it.

  18. Erika T says:

    Lovely photos, and enjoyed your post. Climate change is indeed scary, and most scary is the politicians that are vying for the job of POTUS only 2-3 even believe that it is indeed real!! Hard to believe isn’t it, maybe we should send them this blog so they can learn for themselves that yes, it is real and we need to be planning for this not sticking out head in the sand… So sad..

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