According to U.S. Geological survey scientists - and we know federal employees are never, ever wrong - sea levels along the U.S. Atlantic coastline are rising three to four times faster than the global average. Before we run for the hills, however, boaters living along this coast should ask themselves: is this necessarily a bad thing? Just think about all of the new cruising grounds you’ll be able to visit, with an extra foot or two under the keel. And those limited access problems we’ve been worried about? Hah—soon, you’ll be able to launch your boat right in the backyard!
On the flip side, some reliable sources say that sea levels are actually falling in some places, such as Juneau, Alaska. “The retreat of ice age glaciers is still being responded to by continental land mass below, basically a relaxation and rebound that's way faster than warming-driven rise of seas (an area where everything is relative!)” says New York Times Dot Earth blogger Andrew Revkin.
Tides could be affected, too. Boaters on the Chesapeake Bay (including yours truly) have noticed a declining accuracy in the tidal predictions published by NOAA. As Revkin says, “Weird things could happen.” (Remember the invasion of the Frankenfish?)
And things aren’t only getting zany for human beings—wildlife is also being affected. Polar bears are the most obvious example; just about everyone living along the Atlantic coast has heard of their demise even though they live thousands of miles away. Sea turtles are also in the cross-hairs because they nest on low-level beaches, and the loss of breeding territory is expected to affect many species of shore birds as well.
But hey—aren’t we willing to trade a few Darwinian losers for expanded boating and fishing opportunities? Besides, all the weird things happening in today’s environment are way beyond our control anyway… aren’t they? Of course they are. If people could do anything about problems like global warming or sea level rise, then Congress surely would have taken action and solved them by now—just like they solved health care, banking reform, and illegal immigration.
Besides, just think about what an economic shot in the arm the construction boom will be, when half of our existing roads are under water.
Rising seas, falling seas - will one of the Superpacs please fund their scientists and reporters well enough to end this argument, already!?