Florida’s future may be under water as polar ice melts

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By Wendy Binnie

With the current economic angst, the future is held in abeyance.

It’s as if we’re being held hostage to the present without the ability to see over the horizon.

There is talk about the future and it’s coming from surprising quarters. 

It’s talk that embraces the prospects of war, only the source is not the Pentagon or the White House. It’s coming from those concerned with a ‘green’ revolution, the environmentalists.

 Trouble is that in the current environment, the environmentalists are pretty low in the pecking order, yet they have some important things to tell us.

If we were to take the time to listen to their wisdom, they warn us that our neglect of environmental concerns overrides everything on the President’s ‘to do’ list.’ 

Consider that most scientists now agree that the environment and global warming are more critical than the economy.

In fact, both are interlinked, and while the economy gets all of the immediate attention, the fact is that few people are showing equal concern for the probable outcome of our environmental neglect.

Well, it won’t matter, will it ,if we have jobs or not if the climate collapses?

In the 80s when Sir James Burke gave his lectures which were incorporated into a PBS program called, “Heat,” few people paid attention to his hypotheses nor heeded his call to address the issues of global warming.

The prospects, as described then, seemed laced with hyperbole with talk of a new Ice Age that few took very seriously.

Burke was not the first, but perhaps he was the best, communicator; nonetheless, most of his warnings fell on deaf ears. 

The economy was doing well. People were making money and buying expensive new homes, so there was little concern for something that seemed an abstraction and very far away at the time.

 When the Republicans regained power at the beginning of the new millennium, science was essentially sidelined and concerns pertaining to the acceptance of global warming, or efforts to prolong its effects, received little to no attention.

It took a committed effort by serious scientists to see that the threat posed by global warming deserved serious attention and posed a real threat. 

Today it is clear that Burke’s dire warnings have caught up with us.  

Global Warming is real. 

Ocean temperatures are rising at a faster rate than at any time in recorded history and science wasn’t in concert with what that meant in the overall scheme of things.  

Nonetheless, most recognize that carbon emissions play a critical role in increasing ocean temperatures and it seems logical to want to reduce carbon emissions to prevent the acidifying of the oceans and the faster melting of the Greenland cap.

Now scientists have firmed up on their prognosis. 

The evidence indicates that Global Warming’s potential impact is a cause for immense alarm. 

At the very least, tolls on sea life, combined with the failure of adequate husbandry of sea stocks, has already had profound consequences, endangering the food supply for much of the world. 

And, it is rightly perceived, that anything that affects food sources has the potential for chaos, dislocation and a threat to global peace. 

Another critical concern is rising tides and the damage that may have untold effects on much of the inhabited world. 

More than half the population of the world lives near large bodies of water.  Many of these areas are merely a few feet above sea level. 

When this calculus is changed, untold numbers of people will be stranded or swept away in rising tides.

The ability of other nations to absorb a large influx and provide sustenance cannot be counted upon.

 The general prognosis is not positive. 

Whether now or later, and by some estimates the threat is upon us now, changes in climactic conditions due to global warming and rising tides is likely to change the conditions for growing crops, leading to massive dry areas in the Mid-west and perverse climatic changes on the coasts with significant increases in rainfall and greater threat of snow in the more northerly climes.

In other words, production of crops will fail just when they are needed by a growing proportion of the world’s population to compensate for growing dislocation and the loss of protein from the seas.

These Malthusian-like predictions may, in fact, be the forerunners of untold misery caused by an increase of disease and illness resulting from the ensuing temperature changes and increased rainfall.   

Historians postulate that there is an analog here if we look at historical events. 

For example, the fall of Rome had previously been connected to the successes of the Visigoths, the Franks and other warring tribes, but the truth may be related to environmental change with the eruption of Krakatoa at the time of Rome’s fall. 

The historical record suggests that the sky was blocked out for so long that the sun could not penetrate the barrier of smoke and ash, much like what happened during the loss of the dinosaurs fifty million years earlier but on a more modest scale.  

It was also said that because Rome traded with Africa at the time and the climactic conditions allowed for the introduction of disease that passed into Italy it created sickness among the legions and forcing more soldiers to be sidelined.

These factors are presumed to have played heavily in the inability of the Roman legions to fend off challenges to their hegemony and may have led to Rome’s eventual downfall as surely as the effects of the warring tribes.

Considering the current melt of the Greenland cap and the loss of large parts of Antarctica, there is a possibility that the oceans will rise as much as three feet during this century.  If this is the case, much of the low-lying land will be ceded to the seas and the prospect for dislocation and starvation are increased geometrically, creating chaos for most of the world.

When this happens, most of the world will be pushed into a contest for survival against the threat of geography loss and the prospects of starvation. 

The threat is very real and portentous and is the major keystone in the Environmentalist’s concerns about the threat of continuing war that will arise from the threat of starvation and the loss of land. 

It is the prospect pointed to again and again by serious scientists who make a very profound case for their thesis.

As I was saying ...

Wendy England Binnie a novelist and op/ed columnist lives in Oak Trace Villas.