Friday, August 29, 2008

Rising water

I went to a lecture last night on the impacts of sea level rise to the East coast. The panel consisted of a number of experts on energy conservation, sea level rise, and eco-justice. There are data showing that sea level has risen 1 foot since 1922 along South Carolina's coast. A sea level rise of 5 feet by the end of the century could inundate Charleston, unless levees like those in Holland are built to wall in the peninsula on which the historic city is built.

The discussion opened with a film that showed the impact of sea level rise to South Carolina's coastal communities. You can view it here or below. The Google Earth maps used in the film showed that a 5-foot rise in sea level would swamp the barrier islands, leaving only thin slivers of sand. There have been projections of a 3 to 5-foot sea level rise by 2100 in places like Rhode Island and Miami.

Duke University geologist Orin Pilkey was on the panel. Dr. Pilkey has been a champion of using geology to demonstrate that building houses on barrier islands is sheer stupidity. He said barrier islands have been shrinking worldwide for a century.

With global warming comes the likelihood of more severe hurricanes. And as Gustav moves into the Gulf of Mexico, I can't help but think of the grim future that coastal communities will have unless we change our behavior about use of energy.

I would like to see all the wonders that surround me continue to exist long after I'm gone. My hope is that people will read, become informed and take action before it is indeed too late. And if you don't believe in global climate change, then read about the shrinking polar ice caps and draw your own conclusion.

Rising Seas: Challenges and Opportunities for the Lowcountry from Open Dome Studios on Vimeo.


  1. I read that engineers from Holland went to New Orleans before the levees were built, and told the Army Corp of Engineers that they would not hold. Also told them the correct way to do it. The U.S. engineers told them it would take too much time to do it their way (the right way).

  2. IIRC, the Dutch are worried their dykes/dams/levees aren't big enough for the future! Eek!

    Interesting post. Thanks, mate.

  3. Very good short little film. I've been to Charleston several times and it is one of my favorite cities in the east. It is interesting to see how much of it would be under water with just a 3-5 foot increase. The barrier islands are a whole other problem. There are just so many processes that could go wrong if they become submerged. Larger impacts from hurricanes to the mainland from hurricanes and loss of nesting habitat for sea turtles are just 2 of them. We've quite possibly made one hell of a mess for ourselves.

  4. i didn't know about this - thanks for sharing. i enjoyed al gore's movie very much.. we all CAN do our part but sometimes people just don't until something tragic happens.

    everyone here is on alert (i'm in jackson mississippi).. we have family in new orleans prepared to head this way.. this reminds me to call my grandfather in pascagoula!! right now.. he lost everything in katrina 3 years ago today :(

    have a good one syd!

  5. Good stuff...anyone who can't see Global warming is hiding his/her head in the many people!

  6. I love the east coast. Talked to my brother in Savannah tonight... I think I shall take a trip to see him and other southern brothers next summer.


Let me know what you think. I like reading what you have to say.