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.