Mitt Romney got a big cheer from the climate change deniers at the GOP Convention in Tampa when he jeered President Obama for worrying about the rising seas, but The New York Times had a long piece Tuesday that catalogued all the work in various cities and states to deal with the known threats carried in rising sea levels as we speak.
The Times is saying that unlike the GOP conventioneers, and Romney, no one in New York and elsewhere is laughing:Unlike New Orleans, New York City is above sea level. Yet the city is second only to New Orleans in the number of people living less than four feet above high tide — nearly 200,000 New Yorkers, according to the research group Climate Central.The waters on the city’s doorstep have been rising roughly an inch a decade over the last century as oceans have warmed and expanded. But according to scientists advising the city, that rate is accelerating, because of environmental factors, and levels could rise two feet higher than today’s by midcentury. More frequent flooding is expected to become an uncomfortable reality.With higher seas, a common storm could prove as damaging as the rare big storm or hurricane is today, scientists say. Were sea levels to rise four feet by the 2080s, for example, 34 percent of the city’s streets could lie in the flood-risk zone, compared with just 11 percent now, a 2011 study commissioned by the state said.
Romney's appeal to the lowest common denominator was disheartening, but not surprising.Some experts argue that the encounter with Hurricane Irene last year and a flash flood in 2007 underscored the dangers of deferring aggressive solutions.Klaus H. Jacob, a research scientist at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, said the storm surge from Irene came, on average, just one foot short of paralyzing transportation into and out of Manhattan.If the surge had been just that much higher, subway tunnels would have flooded, segments of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive and roads along the Hudson River would have turned into rivers, and sections of the commuter rail system would have been impassable or bereft of power, he said.
Once a moderate, Romney needs to convince the Tea Party GOP base that he is a reliable conservative, and that means espousing the farthest right position, whether on climate, immigration, taxation, or voter ID, just name a few.
Over the last 20 years or so, the strongest support for real action in the business community to combat climate change has come from the insurance sector because those companies have to pay the flooding claims.
These executives are going to have a hard time - - knowing what they know about climate and about Romney - - supporting the GOP ticket in November.