Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Betting On Climate Change

The evidence for the increase in global temperature and the indications that it is manmade are about as scientifically certain as to whether or not the sun will rise tomorrow. This will change our planet. It will not end life here, but it will become more difficult for many people. The worst effects will happen beyond my lifetime, and some may well be catastrophic to people and unforeseen. Using less polluting foms of energy and production seems sensible(why would you pay to make pollution? For that is what inefficient industries do when they pollute). Still we will not be able to duck the effects of what we have set in motion. However, we can look at how we can cope with these changes. Sadly, many people, especially in Africa, the Indian sub-continent and much of Central asia will suffer both from flooding due to sea level rise, and drought due diminished rain fall and diminished glacial run off as the glaciers in the Himalayas shrink.

Cities on the Mississippi River
-map shows 2m sea level rise.
However, the great rivers are unlikely to fail, as the Nile continues despite the encroachment of desert on its banks. So look to cities like Minneapolis, Memphis and baton Rouge to become more attractive as they are more likely to retain a reasonable supply of fresh water. Las Vegas on the other hand is not really sustainable, unless it can develop an alternative to siphoning water from the great plains. Those plains, in turn are using a non-renewable water supply. Essentially, they are drinking deeply from a great underground lake left over from the melting of the glaciers thousands of years ago. Those aquifers are rapidly being depleted.

The St.Lawrence river, flowing from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic ocean can sustain the cities on it, as long as they do not grow substantially bigger, although its water level has declined, partially because most of the water taken by Toronto, Montreal and Quebec is used, treated and returned to the river.

Qu├ębec city and environs with 2m sea
rise. The current port would be under water
Some otherwise attractive cities—New Orleans and Quebec city, for example, will suffer from rising sea levels, although much of Quebec city is so elevated that if water washes over the citadel, then most of north America will be underwater. This is hardly so likely but the suburbs around it, like parts of Levis and of Beauport, as with most of  New Orleans, are likely to be submerged.

maps: http://flood.firetree.net/

"If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country."
-E.M. Forster