As a crank, two focal points for my whining in recent months have been 1. the utter idiocy and lack of respect for science exhibited by the climate change denial squad and 2. the general short-sightedness of American policy in almost every area you can name, but especially public policy towards climate change. So i found it very different to read a little bit on msnbc (yes, those crazy media liberals) regarding the efforts of the Dutch government to plan for rising sea levels due to climate change. You see, two thirds of the Netherlands is low lying land that is very easily inundated by North Sea storm surges. This fact, plus the majority science opinion that sea level is going up at least a foot in the next century, and probably at least a couple feet in the next one, has got the Dutch scrambling for a plan. "We want to make sure that there's still a Netherlands a century from now" said Tineke huizinga, the country's top water official "We don't want to just let the water flow and all have to move to Germany".
Well, the beer is just as good in Germany, in my view, but sure nobody wants to be a climate refugee. The Dutch got a taste of what storm surge can do in a Katrina moment back in 1953 when a large storm breached their defenses and drowned 1800 citizens. The Dutch have approved a 20 billion dollar increase in spending on water defenses and water quality improvements over the next 20 years. Their estimate is that the next 50 years look pretty safe, but beyond that..... The problem is that it's not possible to be sure how much of a sea level rise they will experience. The IPCC estimate of one foot was probably conservative. The Dutch figure on a rise of 30 inches, much tougher to handle with existing technology. If the worst case scenario of a five foot rise happens, sheez kiss it goodbye. The problem then becomes nearly insurmountable, because where the Rhine River meets the sea, the water that is now released through sluices at low tide would no longer flow, since it would be going uphill. Some longterm ideas include altering the course of the Rhine (and that IS a big job) or creating breaker islands off the nation's coast to break up storm surges before they reach the true coast. That is also a high dollar item- you may notice that the USA has failed to make good on intentions to fix up our problems of the Mississippi delta region that contributed to the impact of Katrina, partly due to the high cost.
Which brings us to the USA. You may say, hey, no big deal, this country got mountains galore and very little land that is as low lying as the Netherlands. You'd be right, except for the lower 1/3 of Florida, which is flat as a pancake and only a few feet above the water. But since about a third of the USA population believes that global warming is imaginary, there is no willingness to deal with it from a public funding viewpoint. Climate Change denial squad, enjoy your vacation from reality. As Dylan said, it's a hard rain gonna fall.