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Benjamin Strauss and Robert Kopp show us just a part of what we stand to lose if we ignore global warming.

As scientists who study sea level change and storm surge, we fear that Hurricane Sandy gave only a modest preview of the dangers to come, as we continue to power our global economy by burning fuels that pollute the air with heat-trapping gases. ... More than six million Americans live on land less than five feet above the local high tide. (Searchable maps and analyses are available at for every low-lying coastal community in the contiguous United States.) Worse, rising seas raise the launching pad for storm surge, the thick wall of water that the wind can drive ahead of a storm. In a world with oceans that are five feet higher, our calculations show that New York City would average one flood as high as Hurricane Sandy’s about every 15 years, even without accounting for the stronger storms and bigger surges that are likely to result from warming.
Right now, the oceans are up about eight inches, which is already enough to help double the number of massive storms and greatly increase storm damage. But it's only a shadow of what's on the way.
If we stay on our current path, the oceans could rise five feet by the first half of next century, then continue rising even faster. If instead we make moderate shifts in energy and industry — using the kinds of targets that nations have contemplated in international talks but have failed to pursue — sea level could still climb past 12 feet just after 2300. It is hard to imagine what measures might allow many of our great coastal cities to survive a 12-foot increase.
The answer? Nothing will help our cities, our country, the world as we know it survive but cutting the emissions of green house gases. That means CO2, it also means methane. Most of all, it means now.

Want to see what areas might slip beneath storm-whipped seas? the New York Times shows how a few areas will change.

James Atlas says that for the Big Apple, Sandy isn't just a warning of storms to come. That half-sunken roller coaster now in the waves off New Jersey? That is the city's future.

There had been warnings. In 2009, the New York City Panel on Climate Change issued a prophetic report. “In the coming decades, our coastal city will most likely face more rapidly rising sea levels and warmer temperatures, as well as potentially more droughts and floods, which will all have impacts on New York City’s critical infrastructure,” said William Solecki, a geographer at Hunter College and a member of the panel. But what good are warnings? Intelligence agents received advance word that terrorists were hoping to hijack commercial jets. Who listened? (Not George W. Bush.) If we can’t imagine our own deaths, as Freud insisted, how can we be expected to imagine the death of a city?
Atlas' article is a meditation on the transience of all things, but shouldn't be seen as a call to surrender. Just as individuals should rage against the "dying of the light", civil actions should not rush eagerly, or meekly, to their ends. Right now? We're going like blind sheep.


Maureen Dowd comes a week closer to never being mentioned in this space again.

Ross Douthat explains how FDR's "New Deal Machiavellianism" snuck Social Security in and how bipartisanship is stupid and evil. So basically... Douthat.

David Patterson looks at the prospects of Puerto Rico statehood and determines that what the recent vote demands is, another vote.

Zachary Goldfarb thinks he knows what's at the heart of President Obama's policies.

...beneath his tactical maneuvering lies a consistent and unifying principle: to use the powers of his office to shrink the growing gap between the wealthiest Americans and everyone else. ...

Obama’s actions as president provide a glimpse of how he views legislation as a means to his end. His health-care reform law, aimed at covering as many of the uninsured as possible, takes a shot at addressing income inequality by imposing new taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Beginning next year, upper-income earners will pay new surcharges that will result in an average additional tax bill of $20,000 for the top 1 percent. The money will help finance insurance subsidies and other coverage in 2014 for people in the lower middle class and below. A recent study by Cornell University’s Richard Burkhauser estimates that “Obamacare” will add $400 to $800 in disposable income annually for these Americans.

Originally posted to Devil's Tower on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 05:37 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Sorry that this is late... (12+ / 0-)

    And short.  I kind of forgot... that it was Sunday. Give me a couple of days off, and the tyranny of "names" for "days" completely falls away.

    Anyone whose morning coffee was spoiled by an APR-lack has only me to blame.

  •  Link broken... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BOHICA, eeff Douthat section.

    The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next. --Mignon McLaughlin

    by WestWind on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 05:42:00 AM PST

  •  If you don't know Steven Rattner you should (8+ / 0-)

    which is in part why I postged Steven Rattner offers ideas on raising tax revenue and I respond.  In it I examine a New York Times blog post he did titled More Chips for Tax Reform in which he suggests a number of possible tax increases which should be considered as the negotiations over the misnamed financial "cliff" begin.  Rattner speaks with great credibility given his background, including serving as the "car czar" and his long-time role on Wall Street.  Because of that I also offer an additional suggestion.

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 05:48:32 AM PST

  •  Thank You Mark (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo, skohayes, wbr, smiley7

    I don't think it mattered much today that you were late.
    dailykos is a ghost town this morning !

    Hope your day is what you want it to be

  •  Maybe we didn't blow it up (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skohayes, Egalitare, Mary Mike

    Instead we drowned it.

    White-collar conservatives flashing down the street, pointing their plastic finger at me..

    by BOHICA on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 05:53:17 AM PST

  •  i guess z. goldfarb spoke to romney lately. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mary Mike, revsue, Mistral Wind, zizi

    'A recent study by Cornell University’s Richard Burkhauser estimates that “Obamacare” will add $400 to $800 in disposable income annually for these Americans.'

    the 'gifts' never end, do they. :-0

    'Well-behaved women seldom make history” Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

    by dear occupant on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 06:00:08 AM PST

  •  Nov. 25.....Franco is still dead and the GOP is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    still leaderless.

  •  No one cares about 2100 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    revsue, DRo, sharman

    Most people reading this will be dead by then, and the few who do think about it are going to have a significant fraction who figure technology will solve it.

    Global warming needs to be talked about in much more immediate terms, at least for publicity. Obviously science needs to capture the projections much further out, but from a marketing stand point, the effects that can occur in the next 40 years need to be the focus. The next 20 years is even better.

    There are some obvious harbingers occurring now that will be worse in that time frame. Much worse drought, crop failure, forest fires and destruction, city destruction at the mercy of storms. Fuel bills for air conditioning, nastier winter storms pushing further south. Sterile zones in seas. Shorter ski seasons and closed resorts. Dramatic rises in food prices, especially beef.

    We live in a country that is roughly 30% oblivious self-centered douchebag, and another 40% too apathetic to pay attention. Unfortunately, these people need to be reached to get anything done, and many can only be motivated by fear and hatred. Might as well turn their psychoses towards doing something useful.

    •  I keep thinking "We are so screwed..." (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      every time I hear something climate-related on the news, especially the crazy statements of climate change denialists.  It's the nature of complex adaptive systems to change states abruptly; by the time you can definitively demonstrate that conditions are changing, the state change has already occurred.  There's too much evidence that we've passed the state change threshold with climate, and that the already occurring and dramatic impacts to natural systems are going to have increasingly devastating ripple effects in human social systems over the next ~50 years or so.  A new equilibrium will be reached eventually, but getting there is likely to be pretty hellish, no matter what we do now.  We can (maybe) limit the scope of the catastrophe, but I'm afraid that's about it at this point.  I won't stop looking for ways to foster positive change and avoid total disaster (it's the focus of my research, and my way of coping), but I can't escape the thought that we are so screwed.

      What a cheerful thought to end the year with!

      •  I know exactly where you are coming from (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I think we are fighting to change course from a 70% reduction in Earth's capacity to feed humans to just a 10% loss in capacity for a relatively short time.

        •  I'm afraid that only a 10% reduction (0+ / 0-)

          in capacity is really optimistic.  This is why I've ended up working on food system planning.  So many different challenges are coming together now.  Not only is global demand growing, and overall productivity declining, we in the US are not working to preserve our existing productive capacity.  In NC, the next 10 years are critical to maintaining our capacity to feed ourselves - as farmers age out and young people don't chose farming as a career, our farm land is being irrevocably lost to development.  Water is an even more immediate crisis.  Very scary and discouraging!

  •  Jennifer Rubin tweeted (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skillet, Mary Mike, revsue

    The "distinguished pol of the week"- guess who?
    Terry Branstad, governor of Iowa, for talking about doing away with the Iowa straw poll:

    Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) spoke sense about the Ames straw poll last week when he told fellow Republicans that it “has been a great fundraiser for the party, but I think its days are over.” The Iowa state GOP chair was quick to pipe up that the governor doesn’t get the final say on the straw poll. But Branstad was smart to begin the conversation on the GOP primary process and to acknowledge that the hoopla surrounding the straw poll mainly benefits the media, not the primary process. (In 2012 it forced Tim Pawlenty out, perhaps prematurely and gave Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) an ultimately meaningless boost.)

    In general, the GOP process would benefit from earlier contests earlier that are going to test the candidates’ appeal in critical states and allow candidates to set up as early as possible ground operations that will be useful in the general election. Having candidates outbid each other for a tiny sliver of the Iowa electorate, which is not even representative of the Iowa caucuses (which are hardly representative of the GOP electorate more broadly), is counterproductive.

    It is important for Republicans to begin looking at the primary process from a more utilitarian perspective. What helps the party find the best candidates? What mix of states and debate structure helps sift through the field to find the most viable nominee?

    LOL, I'm sure the Iowa GOP is going to let go of all the free and fairly easy money. NOT.

    “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

    by skohayes on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 06:23:19 AM PST

  •  Douthat is getting GREAT pushback (7+ / 0-)

    in the comments!

    Since when did Republicans have "long term size-of-government concerns?"

    In your or my lifetime, when did a Republican president actually act from those supposed concerns?

    Didn't every GOP president actually increase deficit spending, compared to his Democratic predecessor?

    When GW Bush took over, we actually had surpluses. Then he started listening to conservatives ranting about the evil of taxes, like you are doing now, and then he stuck us with decades of debt.

    When will the GOP admit that they screwed us, and stop trying to do it again?

    It's unclear to me whether this column is misguided or disingenuous. The premise that the payroll tax is so bad because it promotes the illusion that social security is "pay as you go" doesn't mean that we should get rid of the tax, but that we should remove the illusion. Removing the illusion would require removing the cap on the payroll tax, not eliminating the tax, and therefore make social security self-sustaining. What Douthat proposes is sufficiently nonsensical to be a diversion, because he can't very well come out and say "let's get rid of social security" which I think maybe he really would like to say.
    Ah, shifting from worrying about what unmarried ladies do with their sexy parts, Ross now engages in some "concerned trolling" about the FICA payroll tax. I guess I should happy that a conservative has acknowledge that a tax that provides the Federal Government 40% of its revenues is a tax after all, paid mostly by those 47% that conservatives deride so much.

    However, as he hints, cutting this tax and delinking it from Social Security is just a step in the plan to eliminate the programs.

    “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

    by skohayes on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 06:27:46 AM PST

  •  Is Douthat pronounced: (0+ / 0-)

    "Doot-hat", or "Doubt-that"?

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 06:43:15 AM PST

  •  It is interesting (in a twisted way) that ... (4+ / 0-)

    people cannot seem to imagine a world where whole civilizations will crumble, given the ruins that litter the planet.  To a Roman the Roman Empire would last forever. until it did not.  Now I realize that the Romans were still around after the "fall," but their civil structure was gone (except in Byzantium and one could argue the echo of Caesar in the Russian Czar).  Yes the Mayans still existed, but their cities were abandoned even before Columbus arrived to spread disease to the locals.

    What the recent reports (World Bank, UN, etc.) mean is that we will have to adapt to some relatively rapid and really nasty changes.  Changes that will in no way improve the struggles going on around the planet.  This is currently the biggest and most ignored elephant in the room.  The one with the ability to step on us and cause the most damage.  We can keep ignoring it, or we can try to mitigate it and work up ways to deal with the reality it forces on us.  

  •  CO2, blather, blah-blah, who is WE? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DRo, Mistral Wind

    This conversation has reached the point of a great big irrelevant yawn.

    "WE" -- whoever that is -- are not going to cut back CO2 emissions any time soon.  Atmospheric levels are already hovering in the 400ppm vicinity as China adds coal-fired power at breakneck rates as the largest (but not only) major contributor to CO2 emissions growth.

    China's CO2 emissions are already nearly double those of the US, and will be triple us within the next few years.

    The US could disappear from the face of the earth, and CO2 levels would exceed today's levels in fewer than 5 years.

    By all means, reduce greenhouse gases, but honesty compels a different conservation: how best to survive what is coming.  It ain't pretty, and Manhattan isn't likely to enjoy the party, but there is no will for prevention and mitigation so survival is what's left.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 07:05:18 AM PST

  •  Maureen Dowd Rocks (0+ / 0-)

    Hey thin-skinned liberals:  Comments such as Mark Sumner's, "Maureen Dowd comes a week closer to never being mentioned in this space again." reveal a too-too prissy view of the world.  Sometimes Dowd's sarcasm rankles me, but more often than not, she offers insights (and wit) found nowhere else.  No need to threaten to censor her in these pages.

    Read the piece that so offended poor Mr. Sumner:

  •  I Think it was on the Diane Rehm (0+ / 0-)

    show recently; one of the guests stated the ocean has already risen one foot in the last 100 years-- is this true?

    "A civilization which does not provide young people with a way to earn a living is pretty poor". Eleanor Roosevelt

    by Superpole on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 07:09:05 AM PST

  •  Great deal of Stupid on display today in the Times (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laconic Lib

    Douthat is just beyond even his execrable standard today.

    You know, if we just framed taxes as a special investment vehicle where a modest deduction from every paycheck got the investor lifetime access to safe food, good roads, schooling, security, healthcare, and eventual retirement, etc. etc., he might actually like the idea. What he can't understand is how it could work without somehow diverting enormous profits for management and a preferred class of shareholders away from the clueless muppets in the plan at their expense.

    As for Dowd, I couldn't even get past the headline.

    Atlas I found troubling for a different reason. He seemed to be taking the attitude that all things pass, so don't be upset that nothing lasts forever. There's a little too much fatalism in that for my taste. He missed the point of Jared Diamond's "Collapse" - Diamond doesn't only detail failures in that book. There are a few successes, and numerous examples where making different choices would have led to different outcomes. Diamond isn't predicting collapse as inevitable so much as saying "Look at what these people did and how it turned out. Now look at what we're doing and think about it." Learning from mistakes is good - especially when you can learn from mistakes made by others.

    I would suggest reading David Brin's latest book "Existence" set in the year 2050 would be a good exercise in thinking about all the bullets we have to dodge if we're going to continue our existence on this world, tap-dancing our way through the minefield....

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 07:16:28 AM PST

  •  NYT Climate change maps - not scary enough (0+ / 0-)

    The nicely shaded new blue shaded areas fail to convey the reality - almost all of it is salt water (Portland, OR, map talks about the Columbia River submerging part of the city but are we sure that there will be a Columbia River or just a Columbia Creek?). As salt water submerges whole cities and moves inland, fresh groundwater will be swamped with sea water.

    I have faith that American ingenuity will cope with rising sea level as it happens. I worry much more about countries like Bangladesh which could produce 100 million refugees in the next several decades.

  •  Also keep in mind that as the level of the ocean (4+ / 0-)

    rises at the coast line, it also rise up stream and up river.  
    Then look at places like Houston, New Orleans and others that are already either below sea level, of only just above sea level, and are also very close to rivers that could themselves rise and spread to wider banks for miles up stream.
    Rain fall and snow melt upstream will reach a point further up stream where they too will have to spread because their is no "down" stream at that point any longer.

    Also too, a major cause of post hurricane flooding is due to the "Plugging" of down stream flow both at the coast and for miles up stream,.
    The storm surge not only stops but overrides the more sluggish outward tidal flow but that outward flow is compounded by heavy rain fall inland that accompanies hurricanes.  Flooding is compounded by multiple factors not just how many feet of surge that occurs.
    Warmer oceans promise more moisture picked up by the storm and so more dumped inland.

    When Carla was about to hit Corpus Christie, Texas my then college suite mate's family was warned of hurricane associated flooding in Jourdanton, Tx 100 miles inland.  Obviously it wasn't the storm surge they were being warned of it was the compounding of other factors that the storm and storm surge would cause.

  •  The surging site is really interesting. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    supak, Amber6541

    Here's my county, and a huges area of county coastline is threatened by 2020--a mere eight years away.

    Yikes. And that's just 2020.

    202-224-3121 to Congress in D.C. USE it! You can tell how big a person is by what it takes to discourage them. "We're not perfect, but they're nuts."--Barney Frank 01/02/2012

    by cany on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 10:19:06 AM PST

  •  Send the wingnuts my way, please... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541, Laconic Lib

    Seriously. When you guys come across wingnuts who think the planet is getting cooler, please inform them that they can go bet on it at Intrade. Just remind them that they'll be taking money from liberals who actually believe the planet is getting warmer.

  •  25 feet (0+ / 0-)

    said worst case scenario is 25 feet.

    For a worst-case scenario category-3 hurricane, surge levels could rise 25 feet above mean sea level at JFK airport and 21 feet at the Lincoln tunnel entrance.

    "Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place." -- Mandela

    by agoldnyc on Sun Nov 25, 2012 at 11:27:31 AM PST

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