Resettling the First American ‘Groundwater Hydrology Refugees’
Guest post by David Middleton
Featured image borrowed from the HuffPuff.
Once upon a time National Geographic magazine was a respectable publication.
By Michael Edison Hayden
PUBLISHED MAY 4, 2016
ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY Claudia Waller’s anxious eyes flit across the living room of a home where her family has lived for more than 80 years as she ponders the moment when she’ll have to leave for good.
When even a moderate rain falls in Atlantic City, the streets flood, reminding her of when her family lost their house’s foundation to Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Flood-damaged, abandoned properties are scattered throughout her neighborhood, roughly a mile from the city’s famous boardwalk, attracting homeless drifters, drug dealers, and sex workers. And making matters worse, Atlantic City’s public services are unreliable as the city is embroiled in a fiscal crisis.
“Climate change is a social inequity.”
Ben Horton | Rutgers University
“I get frightened every time it rains,” Waller says, biting her bottom lip. “It feels like all of us, everyone in Atlantic City, we’re sinking into the ocean.”
Sea level rise, caused by a confluence of melting polar ice caps and warmer temperatures expanding the ocean, could devastate Atlantic City in what its residents describe as a kind of “slow death,” one that takes the form of sporadic super storms and routine nuisance flooding, crumbling infrastructure, and endemic poverty.
Benjamin Strauss, a sea level expert at Climate Central, an organization of scientists, says that people in Atlantic City are uniquely vulnerable to rising seas because they inhabit a barrier island with extremely low and flat terrain.
His interactive map, “Surging Seas,” shows floodwaters surging into Boston, for example, would affect a much smaller percentage of the population than the same amount of water hitting Atlantic City. Strauss said that a four-foot surge, for instance, would inundate only 7 percent of Boston but 50 percent of Atlantic City.
“There’s no climate change denial with these folks here because they see what’s happening to their lives.”
Shawn Dickenson | A Future with Hope
“It floods on any rainy day lately, so these folks are obviously petrified of what could happen if another Hurricane Sandy strikes,” Dickenson says.
Horton’s research indicates that sea levels are rising faster than they have been in at least 2,700 years. He describes this change as manifesting in oblique ways, like warmer, wetter winters and a growing frequency of violent super-storms.
Horton is critical of the limited measures taken so far to preserve coastal cities and reduce rising levels of greenhouse gases.
“Climate change is a social inequity,” Horton says. “If nothing is seriously done to save these cities, or the people who live there, it represents a kind of retreat to me.”
Maybe I missed it… But I don’t think the word, “subsidence” appeared in the article.
It appears that the sea level as measured by tide gauge is rising about twice as fast as the sea surface is rising. Let’s take a closer look…
Why didn’t National Geographic ask “Benjamin Strauss, a sea level expert at Climate Central, an organization of scientists,” why the tide gauge differed so much from the actual change in sea level? For that matter, why didn’t National Geographic consult actual scientists?
The vast majority of the sea level rise at Atlantic City is due to subsidence, primarily from groundwater withdrawal…
How could any respectable publication fail to mention that two-thirds of the apparent sea level rise is actually due to subsidence? Did “Benjamin Strauss, a sea level expert at Climate Central, an organization of scientists,” inform National Geographic of this very pertinent fact?
Who is “Benjamin Strauss, a sea level expert at Climate Central, an organization of scientists”?
What is Climate Central? Who are these “scientists“?
There might be three or so activists with relevant scientific degrees; however most of Climate Centrals key people are political hacks and environmental activists.
Fun With Topographic Maps
I located USGS 7.5 minute quadrangles for Atlantic City from 1994 and 2014…
A quick planimetering exercise indicates that Atlantic City may have shrunk by 40 acres or so over the past 20 years. However, the difference is less than the margin of error in calibrating the maps and digitizing the outlines.
I also located an 1894 15 minute quadrangle from the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection at the University of Texas…
I made an animation of the three maps…
Atlantic City is clearly doomed H/T http://gifmaker.me/