Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Hampton Roads in 2100: Average Storms Become Isabels

When it comes to flooding, the Hampton Roads area is already the second-most-vulnerable area in the country behind New Orleans. So what happens when sea levels rise about two feet (the conservative projection) over the next century due to global warming?
With a mouse-click, Lockheed Martin analyst Chris Mang showed the impact of a routine winter nor'easter striking on top of the higher water level. Large parts of the city went underwater, much as they did during Hurricane Isabel in 2003.

"In a hundred years, even your average storm becomes a real problem," Mang said. And a hurricane with Isabel's punch would cause far more damage than Isabel did.
Mang detailed the disturbing projections at yesterday's Virginia Commission on Climate Change meeting in Williamsburg.

Some business interests opposed to climate action tried to use the meeting to attack the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act, the climate legislation due to come before the Senate in June. They also argued that even in the face of the flood projections, Virginia should do nothing to confront climate change. Fortunately, commissioners fought back:
Keith McCoy, a spokesman for the National Association of Manufacturers, said a patchwork of carbon dioxide emission limits by states would create confusion and possibly prompt industries to move to less restrictive states, with no net loss in emissions.

McCoy said polls suggest that while people want to reduce greenhouse gases, "they don't want to give up their SUVs, and they don't want to turn down their thermostats."

One commission member called McCoy "plain wrong."
You can view the slides of all of the presentations at the commission's website.
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