As New Orleans goes, so goes the nation
Posted by schroeder915 on December 13, 2006
A new study of the mass of ice capping Greenland reveals that the giant ice sheet burying the island has rapidly lost mass in recent years due to melting and iceberg calving. Between 2003 and 2005, the island’s low coastal areas shed 155 gigatons (41 cubic miles) of ice per year, while snow accumulation in the interior of the ice sheet was only 54 gigatons per year. The amount of ice lost in two years is roughly the same as the amount of water that flows through the Colorado River in 12 years.
[Peter] Shelley said he believes he saw the kind of destruction that awaits other communities in the United States and beyond if policymakers don’t address climate changes that are increasing coastal erosion and, some scientists posit, possibly increasing the ferocity and frequency of hurricanes. …
“Why have we not seen action commensurate of the threat? Why has the robust and compelling body of climate change science not had a greater impact on action, especially in the United States?” asked [Daniel] Abbassi, who is associate Dean for Public Affairs and Strategic Initiatives at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and who just published a new book, “Americans and Climate Change — Closing the Gap Between Science and Action.”
The bottom line, he said, is that science and the conservation and restoration community must learn to better explain — in everyday terms, to everyday people — that melting ice caps a world away are linked to the rising levels of water at the back doors of Louisiana and other coastal states.
The melting of the Greenland ice sheet is even more troubling than the melting of arctic ice because the Greenland ice sheet is on land, whereas arctic ice is floating and may already be displacing sea levels. Melting Greenland ice will positively contribute additional height to sea levels.
The terror seen in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina is coming to your town. Fifty-three percent of the U.S. population lives a coastal zone, but water management issues should also be on the agenda of people who live inland, such as in the Sacramento area.
What happens in New Orleans, South Louisiana, and the Gulf Coast should be on the agenda of the new Congress and 2008 presidential hopefuls, because as New Orleans goes, so goes the nation.