Want to give yourself a good case of the climate-change willies? Go to climatecentral.org, click on their report on sea level rise and look for Texas. We could be in for it worse than California, depending on how you measure.
When national media talk about sea-level rises, they tend to focus on New York, L.A. and New Orleans, not anything in Texas, because Texas, most people think, is pretty much all sand, sagebrush and Rick Perry.
But you know what? If we're not careful one day it could be true, depending on how long he lives.
A story in today's New York Times cites a report to be published today in a scientific journal called Environmental Research Letters, based on the 2010 census and improved mapping technology. The main thrust of the journal article, according to the Times, is to population numbers, not acreage, threatened by a better than 1-foot rise in sea levels and storm surges by 2020.
When you look at the interactive map at Climate Central, the physical area of incursion into Houston, Galveston and much of the Texas coast looks far greater than what's predicted for Southern California, more in line with what they say is going to happen to Louisiana and Florida.
We're nowhere near as bad off as those areas in terms of threat to population, however, because our endangered coastal areas are much less densely populated. The threat represented on the map is an algorithm from both rising ambient sea levels and higher storm surges. I did some quick figuring:
In Los Angeles, the threatened area carries a population of five and a half persons per acre. In New York City, where 5,128 acres are threatened, those acres carry population of 12.6 people per acre, for a total threatened population of 64,489 persons. In Miami the population of threatened area is even denser, at 13 persons per acre.
In Houston it's .7 persons per threatened acre. But you're still talking 685 acres, 130 homes and 479 Houstonians who may need to vamoose to higher ground over the next seven years.
How long have we been talking about this here today on Unfair Park? Couple seconds? I assume we already have three or four guttural expressions of both outrage and in-rage in the comments section from the people who think climate change is a conspiracy to render us all slaves to Angelina Jolie. (And that, by the way, might even make it worthwhile.)
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But it does bring us to a part of the Climate Central report I found even more disturbing than the map. They also provide a list of plans already in place for dealing with the sea-level threat. New York State, for example, seems to be way down the road already with detailed contingency planning and even serious capital investment.
Texas? Zip. Ain't got no plan. Don't believe in it. Planning is the first step down the slippery slope to gay marriage.
We talked about this last September. It's what the wizards of the Swiss reinsurance industry called "Faktor K," with K for Kultur in German. It's about places that are at special risk because they're not smart enough to know that they are at special risk.
And, oh, look! The shoe fits perfectly! Well aren't we just the Sea Level Cinderellas?