Mayhem is coming
March 16, 2015 9:25 AM   Subscribe

 
(in Miami)
posted by smackfu at 9:26 AM on March 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


Miami's inherent vice.
posted by Ratio at 9:29 AM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


It is horrifying and yet fascinating watching how climate change is reshaping our world.
posted by agregoli at 9:30 AM on March 16, 2015 [3 favorites]




I've heard that climate change has been prohibited in Florida, or words to that effect.
posted by hat_eater at 9:33 AM on March 16, 2015


On the flipside of global warming's horrible curve, California has one year of water left, which isn't just bad news for California considering how much of the USA's produce it grows.
posted by mightygodking at 9:35 AM on March 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


When did Florida become crazy? Growing up, it was always that nice place where grandparents retired to.
posted by Melismata at 9:36 AM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's okay, we can just ban climate change.

Ugh, seriously?

Stand tall, Republicans. You have so much to be proud of.
posted by Ratio at 9:36 AM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


When did Florida become crazy? Growing up, it was always that nice place where grandparents retired to.

Well, have you met grandparents?
posted by The Tensor at 9:37 AM on March 16, 2015 [83 favorites]


Whither weather machines?
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:39 AM on March 16, 2015


Grandparents who have fixed incomes, no kids and tend to vote.
posted by smackfu at 9:40 AM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's like watching a bus accident in ultra-slow-motion - you just can't look away.

Honestly, many Floridan deserve what they get - for voting for the science-denying evil politicians who are preventing any systematic adult response to the crisis. But there are an awful lot of people who voted for the other side, and an awful lot who don't get to vote at all, and they're going to be screwed.

I've been thinking that both the California water crisis and the Miami flood crisis are interesting "dry runs" to see how well America will handle the Big Crisis of near-universal climate change. And so far the results are extremely discouraging. Based on this, I expect America to do nothing until it's far too late, and then get busy doing some dramatically wrong thing that's basically an excuse for the 1% to loot the economy.

These days I think of a America like a junkie who sells his smoke detectors and fire extinguishers for drugs...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:43 AM on March 16, 2015 [71 favorites]


I don't know what Miami could have done to save itself, even if Florida didn't have a governor and Congressional delegation who are mostly a bunch of stark raving loonies. The entire rest of the world is dumping CO2 into the atmosphere. I guess an orderly retreat from the coast would have at least resulted in less damage and suffering? But at least Floridians have somewhere to go. What about Nauru, or Vanuatu, or Maldives, or Kiribati?
posted by 1adam12 at 10:00 AM on March 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


When did Florida become crazy?

Florida has *always* been crazy. Most of it is swamp, and yet, people want to live there, despite the occasional hurricane or sinkhole. Think of all the various land-sale scams that have been happening there for the last 100+ years.

Miami will be useful, because Miami is big and is going to be hurt badly first. Lots of people will either have to wake up or accept the destruction of everything they own. You can't build dikes to stave off the water, either -- Florida is fundamentally a big limestone sponge, and if you build a wall around all of Miami, the water will just seep in from the ground.

This is a state where the high point is 354 feet above mean sea level, and the average is well under 100. Orlando is at 82', and it's a couple of dozen miles inland.
posted by eriko at 10:00 AM on March 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


Previously

How little things have changed in two years.
posted by Llama-Lime at 10:02 AM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


It will be amusing when the wealthy and affluent of Florida pull off the mind trick Opus couldn't manage and simultaneously shout GET THE GOVERNMENT OUT OF OUR HAIR and HURRY UP WITH THAT FLOOD INSURANCE SUBSIDY CHECK.

Well, amusing if you're not one of those millions of Floridians who will instead take climate change up the dropchute.

The political rationale for climate change denial is obvious -- once California and Florida are completely submerged, that's 84 Democratic electoral votes out of contention.
posted by delfin at 10:02 AM on March 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


2015: "We must never, ever talk about 'global warming' or 'climate change.'"
2035: "We must never, ever talk about the lost city of Miami."
posted by PlusDistance at 10:03 AM on March 16, 2015 [28 favorites]


as homer would say, "ah florida! america's wang!" never been, never intend to go. its always struck me as an overly humid sinkhole overpopulated by excessively large reptiles and insects. i just don't see the attraction.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 10:04 AM on March 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


As a resident of Seattle-ish, I already know what the ultimate California solution is going to be: Move up the coast to the new California, Oregon and Washington. I guess Alaska will be the new Washington.

It wouldn't take much to change global warming's progress: Take the amount of money we spend on military jerk-off-toys and spend it on the new enemy, "climate change". Hell, it's even a self-sustaining, ongoing, expense, even if you get the CO2 out of the atmosphere and what-not. "We must be eternally vigilant" blah blah blah.

Get your Koch brothers and your General Dynamics suckling on a teat of Big Money to make alternative energy and fix the planet and they'd be just as happy.

Of course, for it to fly, you'd also have to make it a "manly" thing to do, since fragile masculinity defines republicanism as much as anything else.
posted by maxwelton at 10:04 AM on March 16, 2015 [18 favorites]


Is there some way we can combine global climate change with "Florida Man" stories?!!?
posted by Fizz at 10:11 AM on March 16, 2015


The last time human civilization faced this kind of thing it gave rise to several legends that are still with us-the most familiar being Noah's flood. I wonder what our descendants stories will be about our great and fallen civilization in 10,000 years (after they are done fighting it out about spice anyway...).
posted by bartonlong at 10:11 AM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


maxwelton, agreed. I have come to accept that basically any large human endeavor is going to suffer from corruption to some extent, when there is that much money changing hands. I just wish that, if we are going to spend billions of dollars, some of which will inevitably be skimmed, misappropriated, cost-overrun, and pork-barreled, that we would choose to at least undertake productive projects that make people's lives better, like medical research, fixing climate change, cleaning up the environment, and providing social services, instead of keeping a fleet of aerial death robots on patrol in case any weddings happen in Afghanistan.
posted by rustcrumb at 10:15 AM on March 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


You mean, "Hey you pesky ocean, get off my lawn!" isn't working for them?
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:17 AM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dear Miami
you're the first to go

disappearing under melting snow
each and every one, turn your critical eye
on the burning sun, and try not to cry
-Róisín Murphy
posted by trunk muffins at 10:22 AM on March 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


Chicago had this problem long before climate change.

The solution is to raise your entire city. Then burn it to the ground and rebuild it.
posted by srboisvert at 10:26 AM on March 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


The world will be a better place once the oceans have consumed Miami, but there are many parts of South Florida that are lovely and do not deserve this fate.

If your impressions of the state are primarily derived from Florida Man articles, pop culture stereotypes, or a brief vacation in Orlando, then consider the possibility that your knowledge of Florida is actually pretty limited, and thus perhaps your reflexive derision is misplaced.
posted by dephlogisticated at 10:34 AM on March 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


Headline: Miami, the great world city...

Oh, come on.
posted by gurple at 10:34 AM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Not only will we lose South Florida, we will gain South Floridians.
posted by Auden at 10:35 AM on March 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


It's hard to feel much sympathy here, given that it's Florida and they voted the climate change deniers into office, but the reality is this is happening in a great many places.

We all lose.
posted by tommasz at 10:37 AM on March 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


First they asked us to make easy choices. Then they asked us to make hard choices. By the time we were ready to make a decision there were no choices left.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:39 AM on March 16, 2015 [17 favorites]


The solution is to raise your entire city.

See also: Galveston.
posted by localroger at 10:41 AM on March 16, 2015


Not only will we lose South Florida, we will gain South Floridians.

And they will vote in our elections, woohoo!
posted by localroger at 10:42 AM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's hard to feel much sympathy here, given that it's Florida and they voted the climate change deniers into office

Can you start with sympathy for the majority of Florida residents (you know: the young, the immigrant, the otherwise nonvoting, the voted-for-not-crazy-people) who didn't support the climate change deniers, and work from there?
posted by psoas at 10:46 AM on March 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


So in the next 85 years, probably a six foot rise -- so the one-foot-rise mayhem possibly in the next twenty years or so? Gah.

"When statesmen like Rubio say things like that, they make it very, very hard for anything to get done on a local level

Sir if you're going to use that word on the phone with a reporter I'll ask you to kindly preface it with the words "quote-unquote." What you undoubtedly intend as dripping sarcasm may not translate.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 10:47 AM on March 16, 2015


I found myself in Miami around 15 years ago and one of my lasting thoughts about the at trip was how screwed it was with what was coming in the future. I knew it was flat and at sea level but seeing it in person really made reality sink in.

I remember wondering at the time what could even be done (besides the immediate world wide reduction in green-house gases which even at the time there seemed little hope of happening) to keep climate changes effects from the city and area. Even if the population and politicians Florida way back when were all 'OMG climate change is real, we must do things and prepare' what realistically could be done beyond the things mentions in the OP. Things which don't seem to address the long term issue of sea levels rising. Is it realistic or even possible to build what is necessary to keep the see back and that part of Florida functioning?

No doubt that there are pols and people who are just plain idiots but I do wonder how much of climate denial and heads in the sand stances are connected to some sort of psychological protection or cognitive function. The consequences are just so big, so enormous and so hard to imagine that people just don't, because they can't.
posted by Jalliah at 10:49 AM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I grew up in Houston and I've been watching the Gulf coast erode in Texas (including Galveston) since I was a child. The Miami story is horrifying, but not a surprise in the sense that nobody is preparing for what's coming. Worse, Miami is like Galveston in another way: one big hurricane strike away from ruin. If they're a foot away from losing the water system, what's a major hurricane going to do?

Also I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought of that Róisín Murphy song while reading that article.
posted by immlass at 10:50 AM on March 16, 2015


Florida has always been a little crazy, but it's become barking mad over the past couple of decades. This is because they gerrymandered it so hard the sane vote no longer counts. If you want proof, look at the last election. Floridians* passed a constitutional amendment to force the state legislature to use some tax money earmarked for environmental rehabilitation for environmental rehabilitation. (Because of course they were using it to build golf courses and water bottling plants and so on.) The amendment passed with 75% of the voters supporting it. Supposedly that same group of people also re-elected the most loathed human being on earth who is never called by his name but always called "batboy" to be governor of the state and who is basically the posterchild for the idea that it's a great idea to stuff your head in the sand to avoid noticing rising sea levels--and to use any money you see lying around to build a golf course. If you scoffers would like to keep a vast and unstoppable tidal wave of Florida man from sweeping into your communities, please stop blaming this problem on the voters. It's not the voters. It's the legislators.

*Please note it's not "Floridans;" the Floridan is the aquifer, which is rapidly filling with saltwater.
posted by Don Pepino at 10:50 AM on March 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


As a resident of Seattle-ish, I already know what the ultimate California solution is going to be: Move up the coast to the new California, Oregon and Washington. I guess Alaska will be the new Washington.

The official elevation of Los Angeles is 233 feet. The official elevation of San Francisco is 53 feet. San Jose, 82 feet.

Humanity is pretty much on it's way out if the major cities of California get flooded, so we won't be moving up to Seattle.
posted by sideshow at 10:50 AM on March 16, 2015


As a resident of Seattle-ish, I already know what the ultimate California solution is going to be: Move up the coast to the new California, Oregon and Washington. I guess Alaska will be the new Washington.

The official elevation of Los Angeles is 233 feet. The official elevation of San Francisco is 53 feet. San Jose, 82 feet.

Humanity is pretty much on it's way out if the major cities of California get flooded, so we won't be moving up to Seattle.


well... speaking as a resident of Portland-ish... sea level rise isn't the only effect of climate change. Doesn't California only have about 1 year of water left?
There will be a wave North of climate change refugees in the coming decades.
posted by Auden at 10:55 AM on March 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Grandparents who have fixed incomes, no kids

I'm no expert, but I am pretty sure that most people who have grandchildren have had children at some stage.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:56 AM on March 16, 2015 [16 favorites]


seeing it in person really made reality sink in.

I see what you did there.
posted by Melismata at 11:04 AM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Amazing the damage that's going to happen just because Republicans really hate Al Gore.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 11:04 AM on March 16, 2015 [11 favorites]


Flooding California would be amazing as it would at least give the state some damn water.

Miami is just sort of bad planning - I've never understood why people build so much exactly at sea level. Even San Francisco's 53 feet is better than nothing.

So Miami is going to be flooded away and California is going to dry out, resulting in 80% of the lettuce and strawberries in the US simply disappearing. And, like, all of the lettuce and strawberries in Canada for 11 months of the year.

Yeah, so... so I hope you like apples.
posted by GuyZero at 11:06 AM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Given the amount of panic over "extremist islamist terrorists", it's interesting (and instructive) to see how people in Florida are responding to an actual existential threat. It's almost like they prefer pretend scary to actual scary.
posted by wuwei at 11:08 AM on March 16, 2015 [22 favorites]


Flooding California would be amazing as it would at least give the state some damn water

Water water everywhere etc

I recently relocated my family to Seattle to be closer to family, and also as a preemptive hedge against the new realities of drought in California. Climate change is absolutely an influence on where I chose to live. It's unbelievable that Florida's politicians are so irresponsible as to be complicit in the drowning of their constituent cites.
posted by Existential Dread at 11:10 AM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


> It's almost like they prefer pretend scary to actual scary.

It's exactly like that.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:12 AM on March 16, 2015 [25 favorites]


> There will be a wave North of climate change refugees in the coming decades.

Indeed - I've been looking to move out of KY to the west coast. This is the first time I've started to look for places to live with the assumption that this will simply get worse, and plan for the long-term climate change game (which is coincidentally, one of the reasons I want to leave KY).

Not that PNW is immune to climate change, far from it -- but it seems like a far safer bet than anywhere else in the US at this point.

Are there any good projections on what sea rises and warming on this scale look like in other countries? I've only seen the us-centric view - I can't help but be curious what this will look like for, say, parts of Canada. Is there any transformation of land that has been unpleasant to live in and not suited for crops in a positive way where? Not that I'm trying to say that theres a silver lining by any means - but I really haven't read anything other than "how this affects America as we constantly deny it"
posted by MysticMCJ at 11:12 AM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Chicago had this problem long before climate change.

The solution is to raise your entire city.


Well, they raised downtown. Then they burned it down and rebuilt it but I digress. They installed the sewers in the rest of the city the same way, because otherwise, they'd need to pump them up to match the former-street-level sewers they built downtown.

So, lay the pipes, and put a few feet of fill up. Job done. Sewers for Everybody! But those residential buildings? They didn't get jacked up. They built two pairs of stairs, one down to former first floor now garden apartment, one to the former second story now first story apartment with the floor 5 feet above grade.

You really see this in the neighborhoods closest to downtown, like Pilsen. Those patios you see below grade in front of the buildings? That's the original grade, and that's what the building is built on. Farther out neighborhoods, they tended to fill to the street, but the buildings are still built on the original grade, which is why most of them have steps up to the first floor and a garden apartment below them.

The difficulty in digging in Chicago is also why the transit system was developed primarily as an elevated track system. It wasn't until the 1930s before techniques for tunneling were good enough to hold up in the area, which is why we now have the State Street, Dearborn Street, Milwaukee Avenue and (much later) Kimball Avenue subways. (The first is on the Red Line, the latter three are on the Blue.)
posted by eriko at 11:15 AM on March 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


The solution is to raise your entire city.

It's spelled raze.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 11:15 AM on March 16, 2015 [27 favorites]


> I can't help but be curious what this will look like for, say, parts of Canada.

Well, for one thing I wouldn't bet against the U.S. invading Canada before the end of the century. All this water and so few people to guard it. The only reason this might not happen is that it would probably be cheaper and easier for them to just "buy" it for an infinitesimal fraction of its true value.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:16 AM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Somewhere, deep in the bowels of the Fox News studios, there toils a staff of writers, formulating spin stories with which to blame liberals for the drowning of southern Florida.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:23 AM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


> I can't help but be curious what this will look like for, say, parts of Canada.

We already know. Wet, wet, wet. More summer rain, more winter snow for everyone east of the Rockies.
posted by GuyZero at 11:24 AM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is a state where the high point is 354 feet above mean sea level, and the average is well under 100. Orlando is at 82', and it's a couple of dozen miles inland.

I would be absolutely fascinated to go through files at Disney HQ and see what their planning is.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:29 AM on March 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


Well, for one thing I wouldn't bet against the U.S. invading Canada before the end of the century. All this water and so few people to guard it. The only reason this might not happen is that it would probably be cheaper and easier for them to just "buy" it for an infinitesimal fraction of its true value.

I doubt invasion or even buying is necessary whey they could just drain all the great lakes from the American side.
posted by srboisvert at 11:29 AM on March 16, 2015


> I would be absolutely fascinated to go through files at Disney HQ and see what their planning is.

This is where we find out that Spaceship Earth isn't just a fancy name

(edited for typo - spaceshit isn't a thing as much as i'd like for it to be one)
posted by MysticMCJ at 11:31 AM on March 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


Holly saw the future. Took a walk.
posted by davebush at 11:32 AM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I would be absolutely fascinated to go through files at Disney HQ and see what their planning is.

A massive new theme park entirely inspired by the movie 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
posted by Liquidwolf at 11:34 AM on March 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


This is a state where the high point is 354 feet above mean sea level, and the average is well under 100. Orlando is at 82', and it's a couple of dozen miles inland.

I did research on a region which was defined by the fact that it all lay under 20' above sea level - and parts of it were below. The highest hill is 85' above sea level.

Granted, it has a) many, many fewer people and b) a lot more experience dealing with flooding. It will be one of the first places in the UK to go to rising sea levels, but it may slip more quietly (back) into the ocean.
posted by jb at 11:43 AM on March 16, 2015


> I doubt invasion or even buying is necessary whey they could just drain all the great lakes from the American side.

Sure, but once they run dry there are plenty more lakes up north!
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:44 AM on March 16, 2015


Los Angeles is buying water from Sacramento Valley farmers:
With the drought stretching into its fourth year, a heavyweight water agency from Los Angeles has come calling on Sacramento Valley rice farmers, offering up to $71 million for some of their water.

The price being offered is so high, some farmers can make more from selling water than from growing their rice. Many are willing to deal: Nine irrigation districts, mainly serving rice growers along the Feather River basin, have made tentative deals to ship a portion of their water to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and several other water agencies later this summer.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:45 AM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I mean, I can tend to be all "serves 'em right" as anyone, but there are a lot of local species that will not recover when Florida goes under, not to mention the entire Everglades. Not to mention the massive plague swamp you can get when almost an entire state drowns and the sewage/landfills/toxic chemicals/god knows what have not been removed in time, which they won't be. So even though I don't have much sympathy for the humans who made this mess, I feel pretty bad for all the other creatures they're going to take with them.

Same for New York, Houston, New Orleans, and so on.
posted by emjaybee at 11:50 AM on March 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


The problem, I think, is like so many problems that humans have. Most people just don't want to deal with unpleasant situations until they absolutely have to.

This is one of the few good things about getting older. I'm glad I won't be here in 50 years to see what a mess this planet has become.
posted by freakazoid at 11:50 AM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, so... so I hope you like apples.

Actually, I do - and preferentially buy Ontario grown apples, because I feel guilty supporting the export of water from California to Ontario.

As for solutions: the Dutch and British are looking at allowing their lowlands to selectively flood/re-flood to accomodate water.
posted by jb at 11:50 AM on March 16, 2015


Spaceballs : Druidia :: USA : Canada
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:51 AM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Los Angeles is buying water from Sacramento Valley farmers:

Yeah that's it! Miami can sell their extra water to California.
posted by Liquidwolf at 11:53 AM on March 16, 2015


On the other hand, It will be kind of, um, interesting to see what causes the most mayhem; rising oceans, or when all the oil finally runs out.

Maybe we'll all just have atomic floating cars by then.
posted by freakazoid at 11:54 AM on March 16, 2015


They better make that Scarface reboot while they still can.
posted by Renoroc at 11:54 AM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Flooding California would be amazing as it would at least give the state some damn water

Water water everywhere etc


The thing with California is that it could be different next year, or the next, or the next. During the Great Flood of 1862, the entire Central Valley flooded, as did Southern CA. Then in 1863-1864, California suffered an extreme, deadly drought -- so much so that the culture of huge ranchos basically died out.

California's story is one of flood, drought, flood, drought.

(This next year is definitely going to suck, though.)
posted by mudpuppie at 11:56 AM on March 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


The fascinating thing (which I forgot to highlight in the quote) about LA buying water from these farmers is that the price they're offering is so high that they'd make less money growing food. So we're now at the point where we're beginning to make choices between water supplies and food supplies.

With regards to the occasional flooding of California: one of those happening now would do much more damage than previous ones. The reason for this is land subsidence due to ground water depletion, in some places by over 20 feet.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:12 PM on March 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


BTW, the potential California flood scenario described by the USGS is called the ARkStorm.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:14 PM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah that's it! Miami can sell their extra water to California.

I see a new use for pipelines across the nation!
posted by MysticMCJ at 12:19 PM on March 16, 2015


BTW, the potential California flood scenario described by the USGS is called the ARkStorm.

Hey, that doesn't seem so bad...unless you live in Sacramento, I guess.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:28 PM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


sea level rise isn't the only effect of climate change. Doesn't California only have about 1 year of water left?

NOAA says that the California drought is unrelated to climate change.
posted by yoink at 12:33 PM on March 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is one of the few good things about getting older. I'm glad I won't be here in 50 years to see what a mess this planet has become.

Same. They'll be laughing at the sunny optimism of old movies like The Road Warrior.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:34 PM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I was told that "California deserves whatever it gets", but I suppose Florida might get it all first.
posted by Theta States at 12:37 PM on March 16, 2015


I'm curious which areas of the country have experienced the least extreme changes over the last 40 years or so. I've lived in Milwaukee for the majority of that time and while we've had a couple of brutal winters in a row, they've been less bad than what the east coast has gone through. Even Chicago, only 90 miles south, has gotten hit much harder than us. I think about moving sometimes, but it seems like so many other places are more prone to natural disasters or are less prepared for extreme weather (e.g. ice storms in the south).
posted by desjardins at 12:38 PM on March 16, 2015


Then again, it's 25 degrees above average today in Milwaukee.
posted by desjardins at 12:40 PM on March 16, 2015


"NOAA says that the California drought is unrelated to climate change."

This is true but they do say it's probably made worse by climate change:

"Nonetheless, record setting high temperature that accompanied this recent drought was likely made more extreme due to human-induced global warming."

Also, it lists this as a cause:

"Weather conditions were key to explaining the event - a high pressure ridge off the West Coast diverted the track of storms during all three winters, typical of historical droughts.
West Coast high pressure was rendered more likely during 2011-14 by effects of sea surface temperature patterns over the world oceans."


Given recent findings that the heat content of the world's oceans is rising (and likely accounts for the "missing" global warming over the last decade or so) I wouldn't be surprised if climate change turned out to have some influence on that end as well by making high pressure patterns more likely due to temperature increases at the Pacific ocean's surface.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:51 PM on March 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm curious which areas of the country have experienced the least extreme changes over the last 40 years or so. I've lived in Milwaukee for the majority of that time and while we've had a couple of brutal winters in a row, they've been less bad than what the east coast has gone through.

And, actually, they aren't particularly brutal. Go back to the 1950-1970s. This was, well, Winter -- in Chicago, in Milwaukee. This year was a pretty easy winter in Chicago right up to the Super Bowl, where it snowed 19" and then become really cold for the rest of the month.
posted by eriko at 1:02 PM on March 16, 2015


It's rather disgraceful that some people are hoping to die before the problem becomes severe. It's that same selfish attitude that got us into this mess. The least you could do is hope to suffer along with everyone else. Or maybe even, you know, contribute to a solution or help the stricken.
posted by No Robots at 1:24 PM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


The entire power edifice of the world is truculently against any real solution. What do?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:43 PM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


> It's rather disgraceful that some people are hoping to die before the problem becomes severe.

There are a lot of people who regard climate change as a *profit opportunity*, which reminds me of this story and specifically this passage:

"There was criminality, too, perhaps because among the various admirable characteristics being selected for, the less admirable traits of opportunism and raw aggression lay inextricably entwined. Indeed, some of the first people to follow Rolf Sörman and his three female companions outside onto the nearly empty promenade were brazen thieves—a band of young Estonian men who took advantage of the confusion to tear a gold chain off Sörman's neck and to strip cash and jewelry from the women. With startling speed they robbed others on the deck and then disappeared inside, apparently to work through the crowds that were just beginning to surge up the staircases. They were confident, as criminals tend to be, and they must not even have considered that the ship might then trap them, though the best evidence is that it did."

In this case the ship is the earth and the passengers are all of us.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:53 PM on March 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Well, we know that people work on narratives and anecdotes, not data and science. So the fact that a huge American city is at sea level and going to drown is actually pretty awesome for modern civilisation: lots of better-off people will lose money (investments in real estate) but it will help drive policy adaptations to climate change in the biggest, most powerful state in the world. Better than a huge famine in East Africa, for example.
posted by alasdair at 1:53 PM on March 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


Yes, No Robots. Stay alive and stride around respiring and ingesting and secreting. Wash out your ziplock bags and recycle your cans and bottles while you ponder a solution to the rising seas and the apples boiling on the trees. That'll help. While you're at it, why not have a quiverful of children and tell them to solve the problem. IOW, it's a bit difficult to know what one's to do, other than die before the worst of it accrues. Especially given that the batboy governor cannot be explained by gerrymandering. Gerrymandering explains Rubio and Yoho and the rest, but what explains Rick Scott? There is no reasonable explanation for him. Try this if you doubt me: try to listen to him talk and look at him at the same time. You can do one or the other and just barely make it, but if you try to do both at the same time, you'll black out.
posted by Don Pepino at 1:54 PM on March 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


There are times when I almost wish for the Vogons to come along, just to prevent humanity from dying of its own stupidity.
posted by Foosnark at 1:57 PM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've lived in Milwaukee for the majority of that time and while we've had a couple of brutal winters in a row, they've been less bad than what the east coast has gone through.

Less bad? Lets compare mean temperatures for Milwaukee and Boston last winter:

Milwaukee:

Dec: 21.0 (5.5 below avg)
Jan: 14.1 (8.2 below avg)
Feb: 16.4 (9.5 below avg)
Total Snow: 55 inches

Boston:

Dec: 33.7 (1.2 below avg)
Jan: 27.4 (1.6 below avg)
Feb: 28.9 (2.8 below average)
Total Snow: 57 inches

So last winter was more "brutal" in Milwaukee. Snowfall was nearly identical, but the temperatures in Boston were MUCH warmer and the departures from normal in Milwaukee were much greater. Note that a difference in mean temperature of 10-15 degrees is HUGE from a climate standpoint.

And what about this winter?

Milwaukee:

Dec: 31.4 (4.9 above avg)
Jan: 22.5 (0.2 above avg)
Feb: 14.3 (11.6 below avg)
Total Snow: 34 inches

Boston:

Dec: 38.2 (3.5 above average)
Jan: 26.1 (2.9 below average)
Feb: 19.0 (12.7 below avg)---just 1 deg warmer than coldest month in history
Total Snow: 99 inches

So this comparison is interesting. Temperature wise, Boston was still significantly warmer than Milwaukee this winter. And relative to normal, Boston was only slightly more anomalous than Milwaukee this winter. Note that this Feb. in Boston was almost the coldest month ever recorded dating back to the 1800's--yet it was still 5 degree warmer than Milwaukee's mean.

So from a temperature standpoint, the east coast has not been more brutal than places in the Midwest like Milwaukee using any rubric.

Of course, the elephant in the room has been Boston's snowfall this winter. December had less than 1 inch total (how quickly we forget). And January was snowless up until the last few days when the 1st blizzard and deep cold set in. So Boston gets the press this year because of the amazing amount of snow over a relatively short period (5 weeks). But temperature wise, it isn't remarkable. The Midwest cities always win in the cold competition.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 2:14 PM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


"win"
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 2:19 PM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


The same thing happened years ago in Toronto - there was a huge snowfall and the then-mayor called in the Army. Cue the mockery from every other Canadian city.

Well Ottawa and Montreal have snow removal budgets that 2x or more Toronto's budget. It's just a question of weather norms. What passes for a nice winter in Ottawa would be a terribly brutal winter by Toronto standards.
posted by GuyZero at 2:21 PM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


The way things are going, pretty soon it will be a small world after all. Well... at least the landmass of Florida.
posted by Nanukthedog at 2:26 PM on March 16, 2015


The only reason [invading Canada for water] might not happen is that it would probably be cheaper and easier for them to just "buy" it for an infinitesimal fraction of its true value.

How does $2.25 per million litres sound?
posted by furtive at 2:50 PM on March 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


Or maybe even, you know, contribute to a solution or help the stricken.

Anything a bit more specific, chief? I've reduced my consumption, particularly of fossil fuels. I voted for the sanest politicians who were running. And, even when I'm sixty or seventy, I may even "help the stricken", if I can, provided I have some sort of assurance that they aren't the same sort of shitbirds that helped make this crisis a reality in the first place, because, all Christ-like charity aside, fuck those assholes.

I doubt that that will amount to much, though, given that when this sort of thing happens, it's the elderly that get put out onto the ice floes--whoops, no more of those.
posted by Halloween Jack at 3:05 PM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


What really attracts my attention is how many new facets of risk keep being discovered. Every so often, there's something else that makes it seem even worse. What's the compound effect of all of this? I mean how many causes are perpetrating 100 foot sea level increases over the next 100 years simultaneously? At some point, this is going to really snowball... Is someone monitoring this in a really big picture sort of way somewhere?
posted by feloniousmonk at 3:18 PM on March 16, 2015


I've reduced my consumption, particularly of fossil fuels. I voted for the sanest politicians who were running.

The world stands in need of that kind of clear sight and commitment. Why not stick around to see if the shit birds finally get what's coming to them?
posted by No Robots at 3:41 PM on March 16, 2015


> It's rather disgraceful that some people are hoping to die before the problem becomes severe.

The world stands in need of that kind of clear sight and commitment. Why not stick around to see if the shit birds finally get what's coming to them?

I am confused by this mindset you seem to have that a person could live to, say, 130 out of sheer willpower. That's not how human lifespans (currently) work.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 3:46 PM on March 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


I mean I guess just consider that the people saying "I won't be around" aren't saying it out of selfishness so much as because of math. MeFi skews young but we aren't ALL 20 years old here.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 3:55 PM on March 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


For people concerned about water quality, water exports and/or diversion, and boundary waters shared between the US and Canada, I'd recommend checking out the work of the International Joint Commission. And then go apeshit on your congressperson/member of parliament to smarten up and look at the joint-effort cross-border science on the matter.

From this 2000 report (pdf):

The waters of the Great Lakes are essential for the health and well-being of the Great Lakes Basin ecosystem and for the nearly 40 million people who rely on the lakes for drinking water, for food, for work, and for recreation.
[...]
On February 22, 2000, the Commission issued a report at the request of the Canadian and United States governments on the protection of the waters of the Great Lakes concluding that the Great Lakes do not offer a vast reservoir for an increasingly thirsty world. That report noted that, although the Great Lakes contain about 20 percent of the fresh water on the earth’s surface, only one percent of this water is renewed each year. The Commission concluded that removals of water from the basin reduce the resilience of the system and its capacity to cope with unpredictable stresses, such as climate change. The Commission therefore recommended that governments take a number of specific measures to ensure that removals of water from the basin and consumptive uses in the basin will not endanger the integrity of the Great Lakes Basin ecosystem.

posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:24 PM on March 16, 2015


In research done on climate change before starting my current venture, I spoke to many staff at multinational corporates, and also consumers.

The overwhelming response to climate change was that the problem is simply too big for the human mind to grasp. The concept is easy enough – like striking a match. Ignition. Exhaust.

Yet, climate change is an emergent concept and science. It's been developed in real-time. Expecting people to understand climate change as a field would not be dissimilar from asking non-experts their view on regulating artificial intelligence, the genetic implications of reproductive science, how the internet works, or how the global financial system works.

These are huge systems that are for all purposes beyond anyone's control. We had a fascinating discussion at dinner last night at how democracy paralyses societies from reacting to non-human existential threats. It's very easy to see bombers in the sky and decide to unite against a common human enemy.

The simple question is: "how do we angle society to respond to climate change?"

And so much is lost in partisan politics – not only most discourse in the United States, but especially related to climate change. It doesn't matter if one believes in climate change, anymore than it matters if one believes in mitochondria, cell replication, and eventual death. One does not have to believe in death to die. A society does not have to believe in climate change to be affected by it – as Florida proves. As California proves. As Boston proves.

The issue is what do you want people to do about it?

Miami is gone. Dead city floating. Climate change is not going to be reversed. And there's not enough money, time, or will to save the city. So the people who are able, will move. And the rest will go on living in a fake city like New Orleans.

What would you have people do? Admit it? Then what?

Let's say they admit it. It's now been admitted in the city of Miami that they entire city has been destroyed by climate change in the future. Property values crater. Insurance disappears. Value wiped off the books. A large world city sitting there with no future.

Now what?

See what I mean? It's a huge problem, and a problem that isn't going to get better for a long, long time. Basically, climate change is going to be the big averaging of the world. All of the low-cost labour exported to China that relied on environmental destruction? That's coming home to roost.

Because the thing about air is it goes everywhere. The thing about carbon is that it goes into everything – air and water. Basically, to sort out climate change effectively, we would need one world government that coordinated a human-level response. The competitive nature of the business cycle ends. A cheeseburger costs $100. Most of us take a big step down, until the entire planet is switched over to solar.

If you read that last paragraph and scoffed – saying that will never happen – that is why Miami is dead. Because most people cannot imagine a world without the United States, Europe, China, India, Israel, Gaza, etc. A world that is managed from a central point as provinces, by one central government, with one set of policies.

Until then, it doesn't matter what the people of Miami do. They have two choices. Stay or go. The water is going to rise. Coal plants are going to burn coal. Cars are going to be manufactured. And the world will talk about the disaster, as the ocean die. There is nothing that people can do.

It's especially horrific if one believes the maths, that the 1% of wealth came from destroying the environment. Think about people flying chihuahuas around in private planes. Think about what resources make that happen. Then think about Miami.

Basically, to deal with climate change now, we need a different global society. Since that's very unlikely, the next best step is adaptation. And that looks like Miami goes along as normal until it becomes untenable, and the fate of those people is our problem instead of being their problem.

There's no reason to feel any way about this. It's simply a reality most of us aren't ready to deal with. And so we – as a species – are going to deal with it in limited ways for now. Because that's what we do. That's all we can do. We can do amazing things over time, but we're not really good at massive behaviour change in a short amount of time.

So, for now, Miami's fine. One day, it won't be. Until then, I expect people will go about their normal lives because what do you expect them to do?

And that's an open question.
posted by nickrussell at 4:32 PM on March 16, 2015 [28 favorites]


Coal plants are going to burn coal.

One interesting thing that's happened in my neck of the woods is that the province of Ontario has eliminated coal power production entirely. There's been much screeching about this - "The price of electricity is getting higher! Wind farms are ruining the view!"

But.

We're not burning coal any more. That's just one thing, in one corner of the planet. But it's something we can control. The counterargument I've heard is that "Yeah, but China's burning coal like it's the 19th century!"

Yep, no argument there. But we changed something we can control, and it's one charge on the bill that all of humanity has to pay at some point. I'm by no means a huge fan of the government that did this, but it was the right decision. A drop in the bucket, perhaps, but a change that took a controllable chunk of fossil fuel carbon belching off line.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 4:47 PM on March 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


Why not stick around to see if the shit birds finally get what's coming to them?

Protip: a number of MeFites have their ages listed in their profile.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:36 PM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


The counterargument I've heard is that "Yeah, but China's burning coal like it's the 19th century!"

Even China's getting sensible about this problem; their coal consumption has been plateauing and actually dropped a bit last year.
posted by Mars Saxman at 6:10 PM on March 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


You know, all the folks in South Florida aren't stupid. It may seem like it sometimes, but they aren't the ones, by and large, electing Rubio and Jeb and Baldy. The fact of the matter is that, in our lifetimes, very little of the place will find itself underwater. Well, very little may be an understatement, but not drastically. Most of the land that isn't currently a swamp is at 5-6 feet or better and won't flood until after 2050 or later.

Granted, something will have to be done about a fresh water supply, but that's coming regardless, because there are simply too many people drinking from too small an aquifer, and plenty of wells have already succumbed to saltwater intrusion.

Hurricanes are less of a problem, also, since the bathymetry offshore isn't as conducive to storm surge as it is in NYC. There are barrier islands along much of the coast that have rather large dunes on them, even if surge was to develop. People living there won't be so happy, but folks further inland aren't going to drown or anything. Not to mention that the infrastructure already exists to drain the torrents falling from the heavens.

That said, it is 100% done for in the long term. Maybe even in the lifetimes of some of our kids. Don't worry, though, most of the Orlando area will last at least another century beyond that, possibly much longer, so those children who live to see Miami proper underwater will still be able to enjoy the mouse.

Those of you that haven't really should go see Miami and Miami Beach while you still can, though. There's a lot of neat stuff there. It's a bizarre mix of island life and the US all mixed up.
posted by wierdo at 6:54 PM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah the funny thing about China is they have proven you reach a point where denial isn't an option any more. When your capital city is nearly uninhabitable because of the air quality it kind of forces the issue.

Miami losing its water supply is probably going to be a similar event for the US. It might not be a hurricane; one thing the new jet stream pattern has been doing very reliably since 2006 is pushing the hurricanes out to the Atlantic instead of letting them get into the Gulf of Mexico. That's a good thing for some people, but it's a bad thing if you want it to rain in California or you don't want 20 feet of snow in Boston next year.

The thing is, chaotic systems like the weather settle into semi-stable patterns over periods of time. We got very used to a pattern that held through most of the 20th century, but we shouldn't have been stupid enough to think it was permanent; there are records of ice floes in the Mississippi at New Orleans in the 19th century, a thing that has been unthinkable for generations. Drought destroyed several Southwestern civilizations that had flourished for centuries while our European ancestors were inventing lenses and the scientific method.

We've gotten very used to thinking things will return to the 1960's after a brief interruption. But eventually there will be a new normal. We may already be living in it. And that doesn't mean the end of the world, but it means that ecosystems will shift. Habitable places will become uninhabitable. Previously uninhabitable places might open up. Storms seem to be an edge phenomenon and if this is a new normal they will probably subside.

Then again, there is the Pacific where storm activity seems to be on the rise. The new normal might not have established itself there yet.

In any case Miami is toast, and even though I just turned 51 I suspect that if I avoid any nasty health surprises I'll probably live to see a radical exodus of the Florida peninsula. As someone mentioned upthread the tipping point will be no more flood insurance. It won't even take a hurricane, just more and more tidal surge flooding until nobody is willing to pay to fix it any more. What is happening now to the lowest areas will happen to far, far larger areas with just a little more rise.

We'll still have Will Smith's song to remember it by at least.
posted by localroger at 6:58 PM on March 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


Most of the land that isn't currently a swamp is at 5-6 feet or better and won't flood until after 2050 or later.

That land may not flood permanently untl 2050 but it will flood very often due to tide and wave action. This is not supposing storm surge either, just normal tide and wave action against a coast that doesn't amplify surges. The insurance companies will get tired of it long before the residents do.
posted by localroger at 7:04 PM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah that's it! Miami can sell their extra water to California.

I recognise that pumping seawater from Miami won't work, but I do wonder why New Orleans - which is pumping rain water anyway - can't send their overflow to (e.g.) Nevada. Is it just too far?
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:22 PM on March 16, 2015


The fascinating thing (which I forgot to highlight in the quote) about LA buying water from these farmers is that the price they're offering is so high that they'd make less money growing food. So we're now at the point where we're beginning to make choices between water supplies and food supplies.

More like, maybe we need to start pricing water such that users (farmers and cities both) are forced to take some of the externalities into account. As it is, both get water that is basically free (though cities then have to spend a bunch of money purifying it for drinking purposes), which makes less sense all the time.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:31 PM on March 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I recognise that pumping seawater from Miami won't work, but I do wonder why New Orleans - which is pumping rain water anyway - can't send their overflow to (e.g.) Nevada. Is it just too far?

Pumping water uphill, to an elevation of more than a mile, through the Rockies, over a distance of something like 1500 miles? The energy required would mean building something like a dozen new power plants (nuclear, ideally, if you want to be as carbon-neutral as possible). It's one of those things that you can do, theoretically, if you're willing to spend a few trillion on it, but realistically it's extremely unlikely to ever happen for a variety of reasons (just like the diversion of water from the Great Lakes to the Southwest is unlikely to ever happen, because of cost, and politics). It's something that's been suggested in various forms, in the past (see for instance the North American Water and Power Alliance). And it really seems like a very misguided waste of resources to spend trillions propping up human settlement and agriculture in a region where it simply isn't viable over the long term (certainly not at current levels of agricultural water use and population).
posted by Pseudonymous Cognomen at 7:34 PM on March 16, 2015


localroger, there simply aren't that many places not directly on the coast or one of the tidal rivers where that sort of tidal flooding will be a problem. Most of the population doesn't live directly on the coast. Alton Road is literally adjacent to the water and is one of a very few locations in the area where those sorts of storm drainage backups are likely.

When it comes to property below 2 or even 3 feet, I suspect you are right that insurance costs will get excessive, but that isn't nearly as much land as you'd think. While elevation is low, the first couple of feet are gained quickly. It's around 6 feet that the urban areas of South Florida start losing significant land, so the effects can be coped with New Orleans style for a good long while. You'd probably be done buying a house from the bank before repeated flooding became a concern if you bought today. Not that I would expect to find many takers much beyond that, but people's capacity for self deception on the subject has proven rather high, so maybe you could sell it on even as the low lying properties were already underwater several times a year. As the article points out, it is already happening in a small part of Miami Beach (although I think the drainage project is almost finished now, so maybe less obviously today than last year), yet nobody seems to be worried.

In the end I'm basically quibbling over the definition of imminent doom. It's on the horizon, and it's coming regardless of what we do (absent a global scale investmebt in actively removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in the next decade or less, the chances of which I estimate are basically zero), but it's not here yet in terms of Miami's doom, and won't be until I'm an old geezer.

Many Pacific Island nations have it much worse in the short run. They don't have the resources to spend on mitigation, so they won't have the option of living with it until they are literally at sea level, unlike those of us in rich countries. Even Republicans can be shamed into paying for flood control once the consequences are actually visible. Luckily for those in South Florida, there is enough money locally to mitigate the immediate issues, so Tea Partyists in Arkansas (or South Alabama, for state money) aren't as much of a problem as they could be.
posted by wierdo at 8:37 PM on March 16, 2015


You won't be able to flush away your sewage and taps will no longer provide homes with fresh water.

Yep, and that's exactly how Jesus lived!
posted by telstar at 2:42 AM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


those GOP people who are like, 'well I have my doubts about human contribution to climate change, but I'm not a scientist'? When the answer to that is WELL ASK A SCIENTIST THEN YOU BAG OF SHIT NUGGETS?

Because I don't believe in hell, I hope these assholes are alive when the Next Horrible Climate thing happens. I want the full weight of their responsibility to come crashing down their head so that they feel a shame so absolute that they are constantly weeping.
posted by angrycat at 5:38 AM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I hope these assholes are alive when the Next Horrible Climate thing happens.

The Next Horrible Climate Thing (and the next, and the next) is probably going to be another Katrina. It's going to hurt the poor a lot more than the rich, and the old white Republican plutocrats are going to go "tsk tsk, look at how Those People behave in a crisis, this is all the fault of welfare and gays" and some of them will turn a profit as disaster relief funds are funneled away into companies they own.
posted by Foosnark at 6:27 AM on March 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


> I want the full weight of their responsibility to come crashing down their head so that they feel a shame so absolute that they are constantly weeping.

Nice thought, but that would never, ever happen. People this deeply invested in their denial will always find a way to justify their actions to themselves and those inclined to agree with them.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:25 AM on March 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's not just Republicans who aren't alarmed. It's literally everyone with any financial firepower, insofar as you can trivially easy create trades with a 500:1 payoff if Miami becomes uninhabitable, implying no one thinks it has any chance of happening.

Of course a year ago you could have created a 100:1 bet that oil would be trading at $43, because nobody thought that could happen either...
posted by MattD at 8:30 AM on March 17, 2015


I propose, as an interim measure, that all the climate change denialists, including the elected officials, the industry shills, and the short sighted fools who keep voting for climate change denialiss, all be entered into a massive database.

Then, when their policies have brought ruin and destruction and the once great city of Miami is a ghost town, we exile every single one of them there and let them starve in the wreckage they created.

After that the rest of us can start the long work of fixing what they broke.

And yes I'm feeling bitter. We're looking at a preventable disaster, and a combination of greed, stupidity, and tribal identification is making it impossible to prevent the disaster. I'm not much on a policy of loving forgiveness, after their policies have ruined everything I don't want relief money going to them, I want them to suffer and die.
posted by sotonohito at 9:47 AM on March 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


sotonohito, you and MattD sum up my feelings on our ineffectual response to impending disaster. Basically, the whole system exists to dilute responsibility for the negative consequences of industrial activity, and those who profit from the growth-at-any-cost mentality will continue to turn to the rest of society and say, "See? You're all responsible too." The system is working exactly as designed.

----

Not only that! Here's a fascinating article (ignore the headline) about the gravitational effects of melting Antarctic ice, and how that is going to cause more dramatic sea level rise around North America than other continents. You may want to reconsider moving to the PNW as a long-term solution.
posted by sneebler at 10:23 AM on March 17, 2015


Jalliah: "what realistically could be done beyond the things mentions in the OP"

They could stop doubling down by building in these areas. A moratorium on new development below a certain elevation.

desjardins: "I'm curious which areas of the country have experienced the least extreme changes over the last 40 years or so. I've lived in Milwaukee for the majority of that time and while we've had a couple of brutal winters in a row, they've been less bad than what the east coast has gone through. Even Chicago, only 90 miles south, has gotten hit much harder than us"

See this xkcd for an explanation of how even this weather is merely the new normal in a warmer world.
posted by Mitheral at 10:34 AM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Right, I get that the brutal midwest/east coast winters are an anomaly when you consider the past 40 years, but what I am asking is, what areas have weather patterns that are closest to where they were 40 years ago (and which areas' patterns are farthest from that)? I honestly don't know, but if it turns out that (e.g.) Boise has not experienced as radical of a change as other areas, that would give me a better idea of where to spend the rest of my days. Everyone keeps mentioning the PNW, but what is that based on?
posted by desjardins at 10:54 AM on March 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Most of the land that isn't currently a swamp is at 5-6 feet or better and won't flood until after 2050 or later."

Assuming, of course, that we already know everything there is to know about the rate of sea level rise:
Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin's Institute for Geophysics (UTIG) in the Jackson School of Geosciences have discovered two seafloor gateways that could allow warm ocean water to reach the base of Totten Glacier, East Antarctica's largest and most rapidly thinning glacier. The discovery, reported in the March 16 edition of the journal Nature Geoscience, probably explains the glacier's extreme thinning and raises concerns about how it will affect sea level rise.

Totten Glacier is East Antarctica's largest outlet of ice to the ocean and has been thinning rapidly for many years. Although deep, warm water has been observed seaward of the glacier, until now there was no evidence that it could compromise coastal ice. The result is of global importance because the ice flowing through Totten Glacier alone is sufficient to raise global sea level by at least 11 feet, equivalent to the contribution of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet if it were to completely collapse.
Yes, total collapse of these glaciers may take centuries but that's on top of everything we're already aware of. And even a partial collapse over half a century would likely drastically exacerbate and accelerate problems in low lying areas.

It seems like when it comes to climate change we only ever discover that things are actually worse and developing faster than we thought.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:08 PM on March 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Economists and investors of Metafilter! Is there any way to short-sell a local real estate market? Because, damn.
posted by duffell at 6:13 AM on March 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think your problem with short selling is going to be timing, unless someone manages to create some kind of inversely correlated ETF...and those are certainly not a guaranteed win.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:48 AM on March 18, 2015


sotonohito, I think what the article reveals to us is that the people on the other side of the climate debate aren't arguing in good faith. There's nothing we can say to them to change their minds. Their worldview is fundamentally incompatible with our. In functional terms, the right is saying that if survival means giving up the narrative of white supremacy, then they would prefer the end of industrial civilization. I don't say that lightly, but because so much of our industrial technology is in the littoral, that sea rises threaten the relatively fragile supply chains that enable things like hard drives, semiconductors and the petrochemical industry. Even if we stop consuming oil for energy (which we must), we still need petrochemicals for modern plastics, which are implicated no only in consumer devices but also in medical technology, things like tubing, implants and even medical compounds (petroleum jelly for ointments) that are synthesized from oil.
posted by wuwei at 8:29 AM on March 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


... that sea rises threaten the relatively fragile supply chains that enable things like hard drives, semiconductors and the petrochemical industry.

I've been thinking a lot about how Americans are highly insulated from understanding where anything they rely on comes from, or how it's produced, and how that ignorance drives some pretty ridiculous things. Remember when hard drive prices went crazy because of flooding affecting a few factories? Most Americans have no clue how fragile supply chains actually are, how few people make up the key communication chains. This fiction is carefully constructed to bolster the illusion of product choice in a marketplace that's monopolized to an unprecedented degree.

This really hurts the cause of trying to get people interested in doing something about climate change, even things that aren't about turning back the effects, but about dealing with them, because people truly don't think they'll be affected. "Oh, well if X brand gets fucked, I'll just buy Y brand." No time is spent thinking about how, no... actually it means entire ways of life will no longer be possible, like you'll tell stories to your grand-kids about coffee and chocolate.
posted by odinsdream at 9:08 AM on March 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


Being six feet above sea level doesn't mean squat if you can't get fresh water:
Sea-level rise of 15 centimeters (about 6 inches) and more will require implementing adaptation strategies such as water conservation, wastewater reuse, recovery and recharge, stormwater storage, alternative water supplies including desalination, and other advanced water-management strategies in order to assure adequate water supplies (Heimlich et al., 2009).
That's going to be a problem Real Soon Now, and a difficult and expensive one to solve.
posted by localroger at 8:13 PM on March 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Localroger: that's a really depressing read. I gather that some point Florida will become something like a coral reef: seawater incursions above ground, saline water underground, and no way of getting rid of waste water except pumping it directly into the ocean.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:57 PM on March 19, 2015


Gulf Stream system: Atlantic Ocean overturning, responsible for mild climate in northwestern Europe, is slowing

"The Atlantic overturning is one of Earth's most important heat transport systems, pumping warm water northwards and cold water southwards. Also known as the Gulf Stream system, it is responsible for the mild climate in northwestern Europe. Scientists now found evidence for a slowdown of the overturning -- multiple lines of observation suggest that in recent decades, the current system has been weaker than ever before in the last century, or even in the last millennium."

"If the slowdown of the Atlantic overturning continues, the impacts might be substantial," says Rahmstorf. "Disturbing the circulation will likely have a negative effect on the ocean ecosystem, and thereby fisheries and the associated livelihoods of many people in coastal areas. A slowdown also adds to the regional sea-level rise affecting cities like New York and Boston. Finally, temperature changes in that region can also influence weather systems on both sides of the Atlantic, in North America as well as Europe."
posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:13 PM on March 24, 2015


Meanwhile back in the hotzone a muzzled governor's lackey spars with one of the state's few sentient congresspersons to the uproarious delight of all listeners. http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/03/awkward-watch-as-florida-lawmaker-mocks-rick-scott-official-for-refusing-to-say-climate-change/
posted by Don Pepino at 1:29 PM on March 24, 2015 [1 favorite]




« Older Goatshank Redemption   |   being unable to achieve the impossible: keeping... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments