back to article 'Seas will rise, flood millions of homes' warns Eric Schmidt ecologist

Millions of American homes face the peril of flooding due to sea level rises caused by human-driven global warming, according to an ecologist funded by Google boss Eric Schmidt. "The sea level rise taking place right now is quickly making extreme coastal floods more common, increasing risk for millions of people where they live …

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Even if

Even if this self-interested Jeremiah were correct (and I don't believe that he is) there's an upside to all of this.

Wanna buy some beachfront property that is currently ten miles from the sea?

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Re: Even if

That was Lex Luther's plan!

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Anonymous Coward

Editors - rein him in please.

If I spent my working day doing something other than that for which I'd been hired, in which I had no expertise, and which pissed off half our customers, I'd get fired.

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Coat

I see a new business opportunity for the Chocolate Factory...

Google Boats!

Move over Richard Branson, Erich Schmidt has just begun to skim the surface...

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You quote Grist

I'll quote Nature:

http://www.nature.com/climate/2010/1004/full/climate.2010.29.html

Now - which is more authoritative?

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Re: You quote Grist

A two year old article from the people who told us the Himalaya Glaciers would only last a few more years. Hmmmm yes which is more authoritative?

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Re: You quote Grist

The facts as stated are correct. There is no long term trend indicating that there is an increase in rate of rise of sea level. Tide gauges and satellite differ in the rate or rise, but neither indicate any change in the rate.

There will need to be a significant change in the rate of rise for there to be anything close to 1m global average rise by the end of this century. Which isn't to say that it can't happen, and some models may predict it, but that at the moment there's no sign of it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You quote Grist

> but neither indicate any change in the rate.

Not completely true. Over the last few years the rate has actually decreased. But that is just a bit of natural variation for you. Now if the natural variation had caused an increase we would have had loads of these fools screaming catastrophe.

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Happy

Re: You quote Grist

A *very* interesting article that actually puts some *numbers* on expectations and seems to be fairly restrained on the limits to accuracy.

I note their comment that its the *local* climate around a glacier that decides weather it's going to melt or not and the IPPC first principles models were not taking some factors into account.

I wonder what could be done to reduce ice melting? I keep thinking of ping pong balls being dropped to float on any open water and reflect sunlight so at night there is more of a chance it will re-freeze.

Many thanks.

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Re: You quote Grist

the planet is in a cooling cycle now, so we can all stand down the sand bag brigades.

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Meh

Move

Google tells me that the IGPCC estimates around 146 million people live less than 1 metre above sea level (a mere 2% of global population). In other words - not a problem, people will move inland as the level gradually rises. For those people who have built a lot of infrastructure close to the sea, storm flooding is always a risk, but really the risk is coming from the storm surges (eg 13m recorded in Australia, 8m for Hurricane Katrina), not from a few mm per year rise. A few cm rise in sea level is just noise on a wave of that magnitude.

If Mr Schmidt is really that worried about low-lying coastal areas, it would be a better bet to just build storm defences like the Dutch Delta Works or Thames Barrier

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Sea level rise, what sea level rise?

Apparently sea level isn't rising. Worse, in places like California sea level gauges actually show a fall!

Even the highest IPCC forecast is less than two feet, so how this guy gets his 3-4ft figure is a mystery.

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Joke

Re: Sea level rise, what sea level rise?

He's a bloke, so presumably he's exaggerating how big it's going to get........

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Re: Sea level rise, what sea level rise?

Just to drive the point home.

http://sealevel.colorado.edu/files/2011_rel4/sl_ns_global.png

If we assume the 3.2 +/- 0.4 mm rise per year holds true (and looking at the latest graph, that will have to be lowered some time), that still won't give you 3 feet. 3.2 mm per year x 100 years = 320 mm = about 1 ft and 1/2 inch (if my math is correct).

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Re: Sea level rise, what sea level rise?

The Schmidt Family Foundation (established in 2006 by Wendy and Eric Schmidt), paymaster of Climate Central, says, that "at current rates, the earth’s average temperature is expected to rise anywhere from three to ten degrees over the next 100 years". Faith like this can easily lift the waters.

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Unhappy

This is big news here in Forida

considering the state is basically a massive flaccid sand-barr hanging off the groin of the continent, just means our flood insurance rates will triple again, for no reason, especially in central florida.

it may mean they have to move the space coast, they said they have some time though, so with the usual skill they show a few months before the worst happens they will panic and build huge levvies (dams) like in holland... but alot cheaper because they will have tendered it out and the lowest bid will win and it will be made wit hthe cheapest possible materials to just about minimum grade standard, give or take the odd bribe) after all it worked for them right? what could possibly go wrong with a part of the world that gets huge hurricanes and massive storm surges? (cough* katrina *cough).

heres mud in yer eye, coz thats all we will have left!

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Re: This is big news here in Forida

This makes my sarcastic comment about Florida seem pretty crass now. Sorry about that.

(the d'oh is for me)

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Pint

Huh

"The sea level rise taking place right now is quickly making extreme coastal floods more common, increasing risk for millions of people where they live and work," says Ben Strauss

So, those of us in Flyover, America are okay.

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Anonymous Coward

Bloke unqualified to speak about climate science speaks

And is rubbished by other blokes unqualified to speak about climate science.

Wonder if all the resulting hot air has any measurable effect?

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Meh

You can't really accuse people of alarmism ...

... when you misrepresent their output to make it sound more alarming.

The ranges given in that paper 1.25-10mm p/a over twenty years or 2.5-12mm p/a over forty years. Those appear to match pretty well with the aggregate estimates from the first half dozen recent studies brought up by google scholar. Can you explain why you think they're exaggerated?

The study is also talking about flooding from rare (once per century) flooding events rather than a slow and inexorable rise swallowing up houses. I'm not really sure what's so controversial about that either.

I've no idea where they're going with the estimates of number of houses though. I'm pretty certain the inhabitants of those areas of Florida already realise they live at sea level. That's why they retired to the beach.

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Linux

Off to build an ark now

I will also try to befriend local sea life

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How much is down to Man messing with Nature

Sorry to keep picking on Florida, but Florida is/was essentially largely swamp, and was generally OK with being flooded every now and again. Now however, Man has reclaimed lovely beachfront properties up and down both sides of the peninsular.

Similarly in New Orleans, the worst hit areas were low lying communities that relied on engineering feats to keep the water away. The levees burst, engineering failed, people died. Very sad.

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Dr Strauss...?

Dr Strauss? For a minute I thought it was Dr Seuss. That would have made me feel better about this.

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,

Nothing is going to get better. It's not."

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Trollface

Those who build by the Sea.........

Speaking only for the USA, I am sick and tired of multi-billion dollar insurance settlements for "Hurricane or Flood Victims" who build million dollar "Straw Houses" on beachfront or flood plain property and then rebuild in the same location after every hurricane or flood with money that comes from my ever increasing insurance premiums.

Those who live in island countries deserve respect and consideration since they have no where else to go but we should not be allowing repeated building in flood plains or beachfront properties unless the design for the home considers the natural forces that will inevitably occur.

Islanders build homes on stilts for a reason and the bottom of those homes is above the flood zone.

Building a two story colonial with a basement on low lying coastline is a disaster waiting to happen. Relying on pumps and dikes to save New Orleans is a losing proposition given that hurricanes take out the electricity EVERY TIME.

Those replacement homes need to be designed for 250 MPH Winds and be built at least 20 Feet above the highest flood line.

The same thing applies for Tornado Alley residents. Either move somewhere safe or build to suit the weather. 12" thick concrete walls, plate steel roofs, and bulletproof glass would seem to be a requirement at least for ALL PUBLIC BUILDINGS.

Otherwise you could make the case that your elected officials knew of the danger and potential solutions but neglected to do anything to mitigate it either by changing the building codes or by making public buildings safer.

Obviously, common sense would say the use of trailer homes should not be allowed in most of these areas.

Perhaps those in low lying or island areas ought to consider Houseboats as the best solution short of growing gills.

All of the above is far more reliable than believing the predictions of any "climatologist".

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Coat

Re: Those who build by the Sea.........

Or we can just charge a high enough insurance premium to cover the damages.

Mines the one with an casualty actuary tables in the pocket.

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Happy

@ Dan paul

Now that's a proper troll.

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Damn. From now on...

...I'm going to think of him as Eric Schmidtecologist

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Holmes

Re: Damn. From now on...

An Online Degree in Schmidtecology are a must for any serious CV.

You must have a gmail account and I'm told the fees are non-refundable if the application is "sent from my iPhone"

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Missing the point

Googie is only funding this so you can use the forthcoming Noah plugin for google maps which helpfully directs you by salary band either to a sponsoring realtor or a rubber dingy shop.

It's a well known fact that all the air cooled goo-data centers are primed to switch to leaky freon cooling the second the tipping point between climate change and maximising climate driven advertising is reached.

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I wonder...

Did this study include homes in areas like New Orleans and other coastal cities where the sea is literally walled out? Many cities are already "under water" (New Orleans included), and they seem to be surviving just fine, apart from the occasional hurricane. I'm assuming that, rather than move entire cities, the residents will simply add another couple feet to their embankments and happily continue living in a death trap.

But even discounting those cities, 2100 leaves 87 years and a few months left to move roughly 2.1 million homes to safer ground. Assuming even placement and eventual inundation of homes, that means that we need to move roughly 24,138 homes (or relocate the families thereof) each year. I can't find a good average number of homes destroyed by flood or hurricane each year, but I'm guessing it's at least close to that number, if not higher.

Granted, this doesn't account for the rest of the world - islands will have it the worst, followed by flat coastal countries. But then, those islands will probably sink due to erosion, first...

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Facepalm

Sea level will rise...

And in other news, the sky is blue, water is wet, and bears shit in the woods. Sea levels have historically been higher than they currently are, and no doubt will be again.

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ostrich, ostrich

Lewis Page is being a ridiculous demagogue. So what if it's 1 meter of sea level rise that inundates 2.3 million homes or 60 cm of rise that inundates 1.7 million homes? It'll be a huge disruption. And he talks about it like it's in the distant future. Kids born today will live to see it. If you live in south Florida, don't bother willing your house to the baby you're looking at in his crib today. Why so skeptical? What have you got to lose by hedging your bets and working energy sustainability into the economy over the coming years. "Oh no! Driving my F-350 to the mall is costing me too much in gas, someone save me by denying anything even remotely like consequences for a hydrocarbon economy!"

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Re: ostrich, ostrich

"So what if it's 1 meter of sea level rise that inundates 2.3 million homes or 60 cm of rise that inundates 1.7 million homes? It'll be a huge disruption."

You make it sound as if all these homes will be wiped out within hours of each other, but the sea levels won't suddenly rise a metre or so worldwide overnight.

What'll actually happen is that the sea levels will creep up, ever so slowly, year on year (as they have been for some time, in fact).

We'll therefore find that some areas are unsuitable for building houses on as a result, so we'll build them further away. Or we may build "floatable" homes. Or homes on stilts. Or something else entirely. (We can now counteract wind sway and earthquakes in tall buildings by fitting them with mass dampers. This is a relatively recent invention. Who knows what other techniques we'll have invented by 2100?)

But this is the US of A: home of the disposable house. Most homes there are built out of old planks, some string and bits of plasterboard, before being painted to look like something you'd want to live in. Many have lifespans measured in a handful of decades at most—if that.

It's only the really chunky, expensive, city core structures that will have a longer lifespan. (And even then, it's not unheard-of to hear of redevelopment projects that involve demolishing structures that are less than 30 years old. Witness the proposals for Marco Polo House in London's Battersea district.)

There is, as Lewis Page—and many others—have pointed out repeatedly, absolutely no need to panic. We've survived far worse. New Orleans is still there, despite a fair chunk of it already being below sea level.

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Re: ostrich, ostrich

@Sean Timarco Baggaley

You might want to read the original articles rather than Lewis's version before arguing against a straw man and posting a smug "fail" icon. The statistics relate to century-level flood events; this is NOT about the sea gradually creeping up the shore. Hurricane Katrina cost over $100 billion. The ongoing costs for protecting against a similar event in New Orleans will increase personal taxes/insurance in the order of several hundred dollars per year based on current sea levels. Increasing sea levels will increase the likelihood of this type of event and increase the ongoing cost of defending against it.

Do you really think the economies of coastal US will consider this negligible?

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Meh

Re: ostrich, ostrich

Sorry folks, 88 years ain't so far away when you're talking about buildings and infrastructure. The built capital upon which the economy of my present city (once a port in the colonies, now a medium-small city on the U.S. Atlantic coast) depends is probably roughly 40% post-1970, 30% 1870-1970, and 20% pre-1870 (by either square footage or current value), to say nothing about the 200 year old sewer system and street grid. This charming metro area is fortunate to be situated between hills that make a hurricane barrier economically and ecologically feasible and such a thing was build decades ago. Assuming it keeps working, we're probably all set for just the additional cost of a few extra pumps to handle the river flow when the barrier has to close on most high tides instead of just when storms approach. But if we were one of our nearby sister cities without such an advantage, how do you figure 2100 is so far in the future? Almost half the buildings are older than the 88 years you think is forever. And old buildings must not be entirely disposable because people keep paying good money to gut them to the walls and completely rebuild the interiors. I think SOME people live in crappy pre-fab cities and are sore about others who live in nice historic ones and the former wish the latter to have their smugness be washed away by divine wrath but please to do it quietly.

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Holmes

Right data, Wrong answer.

The sea level rise data tends to come from the University of Colorado (at a safe 5000 foot elevation) and covers how the geoid is changing. Most of their predicted rise is due to the earth recovering to a more rounder shape as it adjusts from the lack of the ice sheets from the last ice age. The result of that is the seas are going up in lots of parts of the world... as is the land near by and under the seas.

There is a second factor involving sand island which assumes the current land surface area isn't going up with the sea level even though man islands are effectively floating on the same fluid at the ocean is. There are several parts of the world that should have been flooded over ice age cycles yet hold life that has been there and only there for millions of years (like Florida and Pacific islands) so something else has to be going on.

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Climate Central say they "synthesize weather and climate data and science".

Do you see that? Synthesize! They admit they make it up!

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Unhappy

Think of the High Tech Infrastructure at Risk

Many of the major cities in the world are built near tidal water and salty sea water is definitely the most damaging to things electronic.

Visitors to the St, John's River Valley, including as far inland as Fredericton, New Brunswick (Canada) often ask why telephone junction boxes for underground cables are mounted on posts 2 metres high. It is because the floods that occur annually. Now.

Here in Ho Chi Minh City/SaiGon, 30% of the city is vulnerable TODAY from monthly floods that occur when the leap tides happen around. The city is riddled with streams and canals that look innocent enough but when the SaiGon River rises (about a metre) all those benign water courses become THE enemy as water backs up through the sewers and in to homes.

It gives a whole new perspective on flooding.

Added to this is the fact that illegal water extraction by industry is equal to the official water extraction is causing the land mass to slink, as is occurring in Venice.

It's alright laughing at these predictors of gloom but when you can't leave your hotel without risk of literally drowning, t brings the whole discussion real up close.

I live at 4,500 feet ASL in the Central Highlands, so I am OK for a few more years but millions of people would be displaced in VietNam alone even if the water rose 50 centimetres.

Think of London, those flood gates are good only until 2050l and then the water will simply flow around them and flood much of London. New York is particularly vulnerable. The Mississippi already floods annually, damaging millions of acres of land, another metre and you have a serious problem not even the Army Corps of Engineers could conquer.

During the Cold War years communications networks were routed around major population centres, presumed to be nuclear bomb targets, now we better start planning around flood plains.

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Stop

Note that modern infrastructure makes the developed world *very* vulnerable.

Building a waterproof building is not *that* difficult. It turns out that short concrete posts with slotted concrete panels are quite able to keep water out.

But once the water gets to electricity & *sewerage* systems you've got real trouble.

In short it's a *systems* issue. But if people *want* to keep living at less than 1m above sea level then it's got to be *planned* for. For the extreme cases I quite like the idea of the "floating" house. If services are not disrupted it's simply BAU.

BTW 2 points about NO & Christina. Firstly the levees were described as being built to handle a cat 3 storm, not a cat 5. The old cost/benefit argument. Secondly IIRC the *old* parts of NO recovered fairly quickly. It seems those 18th and 19th century founders built their stuff on the *highest* bits of land, hence the fastest draining.

Having looked at the Nature article this *might* not be a plan of creepy Eric's to bag some decent beachfront property at a knockdown price.

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Alert

Whenever I read a Lewis article I typically could sum it up thus:

Paraphrase Lewis: "Fuck the planet, I all right jake!"

Ditto for the likes of Clarkson and many commentard on here.

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Joke

thump! thump! thump!

Who is it?

Candygram!

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20 to 80 more inches is "settled science"?

An economist who made a prediction of just about anything that economists predict, would be ridiculed if he made a prediction with a 1:4 range of possibilities. Not only that, this report assumes, as they all do, that nothing whatsoever is done in mitigation, that is new flood defences etc. Some "modelling" exercises with "inundation maps" showing which areas "will be flooded by 20xx" even assume that current defences are not in place. That's deception, and Strauss is approaching that in his report. He uses a range of 1-8 inches by 2030 - a 1:8 range, and 4-19 by 2050, a 1:5 range, and mentions mitigation exactly how many times? Zero that''s how many. I'm rapidly tiring of this kind of garbage.

BTW Mr. Page - thanks for a balanced and questioning article - not what I expected from the headline, though what I'd expect from any journalist who asks questions and doesn't just summarise and implicitly endorse. Some are called "investigative journalists". IMHO ALL journalists should be investigative 100% of the time. To date we're mostly served by parrots who simply repeat what they hear and question nothing. Full marks to you.

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FAIL

Re: 20 to 80 more inches is "settled science"?

I gave a couple of seconds thought to actually addressing the "points" you attempted in that post. But I think I'll just leave it at "twaddle". No offence like.

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Anonymous Coward

Al Gore, who purchased an expensive condo on Fishermans Warf San Fran CA, knows like I that ocean levels are rising slower than in over 10,000 years of this Ice Age cycle. temps have been warmer many times. CO2 levels were 60 times higher in dinosaur days and oceans not a giant club soda. Turns out CO2 or "carbon pollution" is loved by plants which are now overtaking deserts and the 3% that all of us vermin contribute each years is generally appreciated by the Earth. But I can assure you that a 2% world tax to be given to the World Bank will not change the weather.

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