“Sea Level Rise: 1880-2013, depicted in stripe graphic,” created by Dr. Richard Selwyn Jones, Durham University. Image: wikimedia.
CLIMATE HOT SPOTS
“2 Degrees Centigrade: Beyond The Limit,” a Washington Post series of articles won the 2020 Pulitzer for Explanatory Reporting. The series looks at what the world will be like if we reach that temperature increase, as well as explores areas that have already exceeded 2 Degrees Centigrade. The Northeast Corridor, including Boston and New York, is one area. Another is the coastal curve south of Santa Barbara, California running through Los Angeles and into the arroyos along the Mexican border: the area has warmed at double the rate of the rest of the United States, seeing an increase of 2.3 degrees.
California coast. Image: wikimedia
SEA RISE IS CERTAIN
California was also the focus of Pulitzer Prize Finalist, the Los Angeles Times, presenting articles on rising seas on the Pacific coast. The LA Times series included a climate change/oceans interactive game.
Sea rise is so gradual as to be almost invisible, but that is changing. In the last 100 years, sea rise was just 9 inches; predictions estimate it may swell to 9 feet in the next half century. Even if we meet global carbon emissions goals, global seas will rise 12 inches (NOAA 2019).
“The Rising Sea Level” as measured by TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason-1 satellites. Image: nasa.gov
SEA RISE: REGIONAL RESPONSE THROUGH TRADE, EDUCATION, AND INNOVATION
Rising seas are global but response is regional. California is linked to Mexico (in fact it once was Mexico, along with parts of Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming). Canada is connected, too.
Canada, United States, Mexico showing Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Image: wikimedia.
Mexico, United States, and Canada already have a trade agreement, recently updated. Should the new trade agreement include a strategy for rising seas? Is there an educational mission included in the agreement? Universities and businesses along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of all three countries should work together to design solutions. Internships and apprenticeships in businesses engaged in sea rise response could seed a new generation of experts, just as they will be needed. Regional response is scalable: the Belt and Road Initiative is another example of a connected network linked by contracts and agreements.
Belt and Road Initiative. Image: wikimedia.
INVESTING IN A SURE THING
The construction industry is predicted to increase in importance in the decades to come because sea rise will be a constant business. Some of the industry’s innovators include:
AECOM: Climate change adaptation facility for Asia and the Pacific, weADAPT. https://aecom.com, and https://www.weadapt.org/knowledge-base-climate-finance/usaid-adapt-asia-pacific/
ARCADIS: design and consultancy for natural and built assets. https://twitter.com/arcadisglobal/
JACOBS/CH2M Hill: challenging today, reinventing tomorrow. https://www.jacobs.com
Flood Control America – Removable Flood Wall Barriers: floodcontrolam.com
Environmental Business International (EBI) – climate chance adaptation industry forecasts: https://ebionline.org/product/climate-change-industry-report/
Concept Storm Surge Barrier, St. Petersburg flood defense barrier and USA Concept Storm Surge Barrier 2012 – Halcrow Group and State University of New York SUNY: https://seagrant.sunysb.edu/media/sandy12/HalcrowGroup-Sandy1112.pdf
Delta Works: world’s largest storm barrier. www.deltawerken.com
Delta Works, Maeslantkering. Scale model. Image: wikimedia.
Investment in innovation and technologies to meet, solve, and improve climate may be part of the ‘stubborn optimism’ described in The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis. Optimism gets things done – what can we do about rising seas?
Read the Pulitzer Prize journalism on climate change here.
Ariza, Mario. “These are the companies who will get rich helping Miami adapt to rising seas.” 9 July 2017. The New Tropic. https://thenewtropic.com/these-companies-will-profit-from-helping-miami-adapt-to-rising-seas/
Attenborough, Sir David, Christiana Figueres, Paul Dickinson, Tom Rivett-Carnac. “The Power of Outrage and Optimism with David Attenborough. Podcast, 2019. outrageandoatimism.libsyn.com/episode-1-the-power-of-outrage-and-optimism-with-david-attenborough/
Cowin, Laurie. “Deal of the Year: Jacobs buys CY2M Hill,” 4 December 2017. ConstructionDive. https://www.constructiondive.com/news/deal-of-the-year-jacobs-buys-ch2m-jill/510610
Figueres, Christiana and Tom Rivett-Carnac. The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis. Knopf, 2020. ISBN: 9780525658351. https://globaloptimism.com/the-future-we-choose-book/
Fischetti, Mark. “Russian Flood Barrier Is a Model for New York City.” 10 June 2013. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/russian-flood-barrier/
Fischetti, Mark. “Sea Level Could Rise 5 Feet in New York by 2100.” 1 June 2013. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fischetti-sea-level-could-rise-five-feet-new-york-city-nyc-2100/
Franzen, Carl. “Meet the companies that are going to get rich from global warming: A warmer, wetter world won’t be bad for these industries.” US Army Corps of Engineers. 12 August 2013. The Verge. https://www.theverge.com/2013/8/12/4613802/cashing-in-on-climate-change-flood-wall-air-conditioning
Invenko, Chris. “Dutch Masters: The Netherlands exports flood-control expertise.” Earth Magazine. https://www.earthmagazine.org/article/dutch-masters-netherlands-expoerts-flood-control-expertise/
Lindsey, Rebecca. “Climate Change: Global Sea Level.” 19 November 2019. NOAA/Climate.gov. https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/climate-change-global-sea-level/
Ryszard, Daniel, Tim Paulus. “Selection of a Gate Type,” in Lock Gates and Other Closures in Hydraulic Projects, 2019. Butterworth-Heinemann/Elsevier, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-809264-4.09994-8 and https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/storm-surge-barrier/
United States Trade Agreement: USMCA (and links to Canada/Mexico versions). https://ustr.gov/trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements/united-states-mexico-canada-agreement/agreement-between
Wilson, Scott. “2 Degrees Celsius: Beyond the Limit: Fires, floods, and free parking – California’s unending fight against climate change.” 5 December 2019. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/national/climate-environment/climate-change-california/
Xia, Rosanna, Swetha Kannan, Terry Castleman. “The California coast is disappearing under the rising sea.” Los Angeles Times. https://www.latimes.com/projects/la-me-sea-level-rise-california-coast/
Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unp