It is another bad week for climate change deniers. First the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced that the average surface temperature across the globe in February was the hottest ever on record. Then a new study published by scientists at the University of Georgia found that, unless we reduce our dependence on petroleum, 13.1 million Americans will have to move to higher ground before the end of the century because of the rising sea levels caused by global warming.
The NASA announcement stated that in February, the average surface temperature across the globe was about 1.35 degrees Celsius warmer than the average global surface temperature in February from 1951 to 1980. The previous record was set in January 2016, just a month ago. That is not a good sign for climate change deniers, or anyone else who lives on this planet.
The proof is there in the scientific data. For example, since 1967, the U. S. Department of Agriculture has revised the Plant Hardiness Zone numbers for Pennsylvania upward from 4 to 6 in northern Pennsylvania and upward from 5 to 7 in southern Pennsylvania. The rising annual minimum and maximum temperatures in Pennsylvania are similar to rising annual minimum and maximum temperatures in most of North America.
The University of Georgia study compared sea level, land elevation, and flood risk data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with current and projected population figures for 22 coastal states and the District of Columbia.
The population records used census data for the 70-year period 1940 to 2010, broken down into areas about the size of a city block. The scientists then calculated the projected population growth on the same geographic scale. The study, Millions projected to be at risk from sea-level rise in the continental United States, was published Monday in Nature Climate Change.
According to the study nearly 70 percent of the people affected live in the southeastern states, with nearly half of those people living in Florida. More than a million people in California, and almost a million people in New York and New Jersey, will also be affected if the sea level continues to rise at its current rate. The researchers estimate that the cost of relocating the 13.1 million people displaced by the rising sea-level will be about $14 trillion.
A third study shows that some Americans living in low lying coastal communities are already feeling the disastrous effects of rising sea levels caused by global warming. The U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit website, published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), reports that in Washington State sea-level rise is forcing the Quinault Indian tribe to seriously consider abandoning the lands it has inhabited for thousands of years; because the land is being flooded.
The people of the Quinault tribe live on the Pacific coast of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, at the mouth of the Quinault River. For years, the small village has been protected from the ocean by a 2,000-foot-long sea wall. But now that sea wall has failed. In March 2014 waves crashed over the sea wall, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has told the Quinault tribe that because of sea level rise caused by climate change repairing the sea wall is no longer a viable option. So the Quinault tribe will have to leave land it regards as sacred.
Three news stories in less than a week about how climate change caused by the emissions poured into the atmosphere by humans is causing the sea level to rise with disastrous consequences for millions of Americans. The truth is undeniable, but climate change deniers continue to deny it anyway. Truth is stranger than fiction.