Sep. 5th, 2008

heron61: (Default)
I've seen all manner of unlikely predictions about how much and how fast sea levels could rise in response to global warming. Now, there is at least somewhat hard data on what the maximum (by 2100) could be, with the answer being around 2 meters. That's definitely a non-trivial amount, but is also very far from the 6m-60m rises I've seen suggested by various alarmists and the disturbingly avid fans of various sorts of environmental apocalypses. What it does mean is that current plans (mostly being implemented in the EU) to switch over from fossil fuels to renewable alternatives that don't produce greenhouse gases are perfectly reasonable and the occasional lunatic calls to give up industrial civilization before the world floods or otherwise dies are (as I discuss in more detail here), the result of self (& other)-flagellating puritanism that is both utterly wrong and unworthy of serious consideration. Instead, it's clear that we need to switch to other forms of fuel, for both electricity generation and to power vehicles. Currently, the most hopeful thing I've seen for the later is a combination of various improvements in battery capacity along with what looks to be a fairly continuous development plan from hybrid cars to plug in hybrids to (presumably and hopefully) fully electric vehicles, which will require far less maintenance than conventional cars, while costing significantly less to power.

That said, two meters is definitely a non-trivial sea level rise and various plans will need to be made to handle problems in various low-lying coastal cities. Sadly, if things go as they have been, I expect much progress on this in the EU and Canada, some work on this in China, and next to no work on this in the US. With luck, this will change in a few years. One useful factor is that according to all reasonable predictions, the world population will peak between 2050 & 2070 and beginning declining, (as I discuss here), so there's a good chance that the world population will be only a little higher (and perhaps no larger) than we have now, and supplying their basic needs will prove much easier, since 80% of them (and with luck, of us) will very likely live in cities.

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