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Coastal Flood Potential - Will It Force Redefining of "Defense"?
an article by Alan Blanes

What would be the consequences of oceans rising of one meter over the next few decades?

This is the forecast from the WorldWatch Institute, (http://www.worldwatch.org/mag/2000/00-6.html). See, for example, the article by Don Henrichson "The Oceans Are Coming Ashore" [Nov/Dec 2000] which states that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts a 1 meter rise in oceans by 2080 according to computer models.

The same forecast is made by Molly O'Meara in her article "The Risks of Disrupting Climate" in the WorldWatch Reader 1991. She estimates almost a one meter rise in ocean level if temperatures rise 6 degrees. And it could be worse. Bentley and Bindschlader in their article "On Thin Ice" December 2002 "Scientific American" warn that unpredictably greater problems can happen due to the slippery subsurface of the Western Antarctic Iceshelf. Their article is available from sadigital@sciam.com, and more details of their research can be accessed at www.glacier.rice.edu/.

The consequences would be terrible, but we can avoid it.

We could de-salinate the sea water and use it to make forests in the deserts and other regions that need water. This could turn things around so that the land areas of the planet would retain water instead of over-filling the oceans. (For more information e-mail "prosci@ecn.ab.ca").

To do this, we must restructure our engineering and industrial priorities from war to peace. The world spends the equivalent of more than $1.2 trillion Canadian dollars a year on armaments according to the Stockholm International Peace Reseach Institute (http://www.sipri.org). We need to convert the defense contract companies from weapons production to civil engineering programs involving restoration of unfertile regions of the continents. This would enable the continents to retain enough water and plant life (i.e. dense forests) in order to offset the water flow from melting icecaps and glaciers.

I would suggest that we begin by developing a dialogue with groups such as Engineers Without Borders.

DISCUSSION

Question(s) related to this article:


How can we deal with urgent environmental problems?, if we continue to give priority to armaments, militarism and war?

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Latest reader comment:

Recent news reports support the analysis made by Alan Blanes in this article.  One is by the British Minister of the Environment, Michael Meacher, who says that the situation is far worse than anyone wants to realize.  An account of his speech in The Guardian of London is available on the Internet at The London Guardian.

Another report links the problem to the war in Iraq and to the consumerism of American society, which makes up five percent of the world's population and uses 42 percent of the world's energy.  This one is by none other than Michael Gorbachev and was reported by CNN on March 8.  To see it on the Internet, go to CNN Europe edition and put "Gorby" in the search box for cnn.com.




This report was posted on February 7, 2003.