14 Jan 2010: Opinion

How High Will Seas Rise?
Get Ready for Seven Feet

As governments, businesses, and homeowners plan for the future, they should assume that the world’s oceans will rise by at least two meters — roughly seven feet — this century. But far too few agencies or individuals are preparing for the inevitable increase in sea level that will take place as polar ice sheets melt.

by rob young and orrin pilkey

The reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are balanced and comprehensive documents summarizing the impact of global warming on the planet. But they are not without imperfections, and one of the most notable was the analysis of future sea level rise contained in the latest report, issued in 2007.

Given the complexities of forecasting how much the melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets will contribute to increases in global sea level, the IPCC chose not to include these giant ice masses in their calculations, thus ignoring what is likely to be the most important source of sea level rise in the 21st century. Arguing that too little was understood about ice sheet collapse to construct a mathematical model upon which even a rough estimate could be based, the IPCC came up with sea level predictions using thermal expansion of the oceans and melting of mountain glaciers outside the poles. Its results were predictably conservative — a maximum of a two-foot rise this century — and were even a foot lower than an earlier IPCC report that factored in some melting of Greenland’s ice sheet.

The IPCC’s 2007 sea level calculations — widely recognized by the academic community as a critical flaw in the report — have caused confusion among many in the general public and the media and have created fodder for global warming skeptics. But there should be no confusion about the serious threat posed by rising sea levels, especially as evidence has mounted in the past two years of the accelerated pace of melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets.

Getty Images
Most climate scientists believe melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet will be one of the main drivers of sea level rise during this century.
The message for the world’s leaders and decision makers is that sea level rise is real and is only going to get worse. Indeed, we make the case in our recent book, The Rising Sea, that governments and coastal managers should assume the inevitability of a seven-foot rise in sea level. This number is not a prediction. But we believe that seven feet is the most prudent, conservative long-term planning guideline for coastal cities and communities, especially for the siting of major infrastructure; a number of academic studies examining recent ice sheet dynamics have suggested that an increase of seven feet or more is not only possible, but likely. Certainly, no one should be expecting less than a three-foot rise in sea level this century.

In the 20th century, sea level rise was primarily due to thermal expansion of ocean water. Contributions of melting mountain glaciers and the large ice sheets were minor components. But most climate scientists now believe that the main drivers of sea level rise in the 21st century will be the melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (a potential of a 16-foot rise if the entire sheet melts) and the Greenland Ice Sheet (a potential rise of 20 feet if the entire ice cap melts). The nature of the melting is non-linear and is difficult to predict.

Seeking to correct the IPCC’s failure to come up with a comprehensive forecast for sea level increase, a number of state panels and government
The continued development of many low-lying coastal areas is foolhardy and irresponsible.
committees have produced sea level rise predictions that include an examination of melting ice sheets. For example, sea level rise panels in Rhode Island and Miami-Dade County have concluded that a minimum of a three- to five-foot sea level rise should be anticipated by 2100. A California report assumes a possible 4.6-foot rise by 2100, while the Dutch assume a 2.5-foot rise by 2050 in the design of their tidal gates.

Given the growing consensus about the major sea level rise on the way in the coming century or two, the continued development of many low-lying coastal areas — including much of the U.S. east coast — is foolhardy and irresponsible.

Who is at risk?

Rising seas will be on the front lines of the battle against changing climate during the next century. Our great concern is that as the infrastructure of major cities in the industrialized world becomes threatened, there will be few resources left to address the dramatic impacts that will be facing the citizens of the developing world.

The ramifications of a major sea level rise are massive. Agriculture will be disrupted, water supplies will be salinized, storms and flood waters will reach ever further inland, and millions of environmental refugees will be created — 15 million people live at or below three feet elevation in Bangladesh, for example. Governments, especially those in the developing world, will be disrupted, creating political instability.

The most vulnerable of all coastal environments are deltas of major rivers, including the Mekong, Irrawaddy, Niger, Ganges-Brahmaputra, Nile, and
The most vulnerable of all coastal environments are deltas of major rivers, including the Mississippi.
Mississippi. Here, land subsidence will combine with global sea level rise to create very high rates of what is known as “local, relative sea level rise.” The rising seas will displace the vast majority of people in these delta regions. Adding insult to injury, in many parts of Asia the rice crop will be decimated by rising sea level — a three-foot sea level rise will eliminate half of the rice production in Vietnam — causing a food crisis coincident with the mass migration of people.

The Mississippi Delta is unique because it lies within a country with the financial resources to fight land loss. Nevertheless, we believe multibillion-dollar engineering and restoration efforts designed to preserve communities on the Mississippi Delta are doomed to failure, given the magnitude of relative sea level rise expected. Former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt said in 2008 that it was an “ineluctable fact” that within the lifespan of some people alive today, “the vast majority of that land will be underwater.” He also faulted federal officials for not developing migration plans for area residents and for not having the “honesty and compassion” to tell Louisiana residents the “truth”: Someday, they will have to leave the delta. The city of New Orleans can probably be protected into the next century, but only at great expense and with little guarantee that future storms like hurricane Katrina will not inundate the city again.

Pacific and Indian Ocean atoll nations are already being abandoned because of the direct and indirect effects of sea level rise, such as saltwater intrusion into groundwater. In the Marshall Islands, some crops are being grown in abandoned 55-gallon oil drums because the ground is now too salty for planting. New Zealand is accepting, on a gradual basis, all of the inhabitants of the Tuvalu atolls. Inhabitants of Carteret Atoll have all moved to Papua, New Guinea. The forward-looking government of the Maldives recently held a cabinet meeting underwater to highlight the ultimate fate of their small island nation.

The world’s major coastal cities will undoubtedly receive most of the attention as sea level rise threatens infrastructure. Miami tops the list of most endangered cities in the world, as measured by the value of property that would be threatened by a three-foot rise. This would flood all of Miami Beach and leave downtown Miami sitting as an island of water, disconnected from the rest of Florida. Other threatened U.S. cities include New York/Newark, New Orleans, Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, Tampa-St Petersburg, and San Francisco. Osaka/Kobe, Tokyo, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, and Nagoya are among the most threatened major cities outside of North America.

Preserving coastal cities will require huge public expenditures, leaving smaller coastal resort communities to fend for themselves. Manhattan, for example, is likely to beat out Nags Head, North Carolina for federal funds, a fact that recreational beach communities must recognize when planning a response to sea level rise.

Twelve percent of the world’s open ocean shorelines are fronted by barrier islands, and a three-foot sea level rise will spell doom for development on most of them — save for those completely surrounded by massive seawalls.
The next century of rising sea level need not be an economic disaster.
Impacts in the United States, with a 3,500-mile long barrier island shoreline extending from Montauk Point on Long Island to the Mexican border, will be huge. The only way to preserve the barrier islands themselves will be to abandon them so that they may respond naturally to rising sea level. Yet, most coastal states continue to allow massive, irresponsible development of the low-lying coast.

Ironically, low-elevation Florida is probably the least prepared of all coastal states. Hundreds of miles of high rises line the state’s shoreline, and more are built every year. The state pours subsidies into coastal development through state-run insurance and funding for coastal protection. If a portion of those funds were spent adapting to sea level rise rather than ignoring it, Florida might be ready to meet the challenge of the next century. Let’s hope the state rises to the challenge.

Despite the dire facts, the next century of rising sea level need not be an economic disaster. Thoughtful planning can lead to a measured retreat from vulnerable coastal lowlands. We recommend the following:

Immediately prohibit the construction of high-rise buildings and major infrastructure in areas vulnerable to future sea level rise. Buildings placed in future hazardous zones should be small and movable — or disposable.

Relocation of buildings and infrastructure should be a guiding philosophy. Instead of making major repairs on infrastructure such as bridges, water supply, and sewer and drainage systems, when major maintenance is needed, go the extra mile and place them out of reach of the sea. In our view, no new sewer and water lines should be introduced to zones that will be adversely affected by sea level rise in the next 50 years. Relocation of some beach buildings could be implemented after severe storms or with financial incentives.

Stop government assistance for oceanfront rebuilding. The guarantee of recovery is perhaps the biggest obstacle to a sensible response to sea level rise. The goal in the past has always been to restore conditions to what they were before a storm or flood. In the United States, hurricanes have become urban renewal programs. The replacement houses become larger and larger and even more costly to replace again in the future. Those who invest in vulnerable coastal areas need to assume responsibility for that decision. If you stay, you pay.

More from Yale e360

The Copenhagen Diagnosis: Sobering Update on Science
On the eve of the Copenhagen conference, a group of scientists has issued an update on the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Their conclusions? Ice at both poles is melting faster than predicted, the claims of recent global cooling are wrong, and world leaders must act fast if steep temperature rises are to be avoided.

Adaptation a Key Part
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After years of reluctance, scientists and governments are now looking to adaptation measures as critical for confronting the consequences of climate change. And increasingly, plans are being developed to deal with rising seas, water shortages, spreading diseases, and other realities of a warming world.
Get the Corps off the shore. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, more or less by default, is the government agency in charge of much of the planning and the funding for the nation’s response to sea level rise. It is an agency ill-suited to the job. Part of the problem is that the engineers’ “we can fix it” mentality is the wrong mindset for a sensible approach to responding to changing sea level.

Local governments cannot be expected to take the lead. The problems created by sea level rise are international and national, not local, in scope. Local governments of coastal towns (understandably) follow the self-interests of coastal property owners and developers, so preservation of buildings and maintaining tax base is inevitably a very high priority. In addition, the resources needed to respond to sea level rise will be far beyond those available to local communities.

Responding to long-term sea level rise will pose unprecedented challenges to the international community. Economic and humanitarian disasters can be avoided, but only through wise, forward-looking planning. Tough decisions will need to be made regarding the allocation of resources and response to natural disasters. Let us hope that our political leadership can provide the bold vision and strong leadership that will be required to implement a reasoned response.

POSTED ON 14 Jan 2010 IN Climate Climate Oceans Policy & Politics Antarctica and the Arctic 


A seven foot rise is well above the worst case scenario in the last IPCC report. So I guess that means the "if the melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets accelerates" is a pretty big if. We've been hearing scare scenarios like that since climate science began.

Posted by Luke Lea on 14 Jan 2010

Most of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases has gone into the ocean, not the atmosphere.

Since the mid 1950s 18 times more heat has been stored in the ocean due to global warming than has been stored in the atmosphere. This ocean warming causes sea level rise due to thermal expansion of ocean water and by melting portions of the polar icecaps.

The Global Warming Mitigation Method (GWMM) leverages the potential of the waters that will otherwise inundate coastal arrears due to sea level rise, to irrigate the world’s hot deserts which have the capacity to sequester as much as 15 gigatons of carbon dioxide annually.

These irrigated deserts can in turn provide food, fuel, fibre and building materials for the neediest of the planet.

A practical way to limit sea level rise due to thermal expansion, is to convert the heat the ocean is absorbing to productive energy. This can be accomplished by means of ocean thermal energy conversion, which is a method of generating electricity using the temperature difference between deep ocean water, typically at 5oC and shallow ocean waters, typically about 15oC, but as high as 24oC in equatorial regions, where the largest deserts are found, to run a heat engine.

It would take the constant conversion of one terrawatt (TW) worth of the ocean’s heat to electrical energy to maintain the ocean’s at current temperatures and thus prevent thermal expansion.

The currently most viable approach to getting water into a desert environment, the only terrestrial locations capable of taking up the water that will otherwise cause sea level rise, is to convey power to desalination plants adjacent the desert. Existing technology can desalinate water at a cost of about 1.5KWh/m3 using Reverse Osmosis. One TW could therefore produce 5840 km3 of the missing photosynthesis ingredient annually, which is enough to cover the world’s hot deserts with .375 metres of water; enough to reclaim between 12 and 20 percent of the deserts to productive agricultural use, which in turn would sequester between 2 and 3 gigatons of CO2 annually.

Another source of water for sea level rise and potential irrigation is melt water from the icecaps and the runoff of the major rivers as they empty into the oceans. Some of this can be captured and transported to the deserts of the Middle East and North Africa as ballast in oil tankers deadheading to their home ports.

The global capacity of the world’s tanker fleet could carry about the same amount of fresh water as Saudi Arabia is currently desalinating at significant cost.

The projected capital cost to produce 1 TW of electrical energy using ocean thermal energy conversion is $8.5 trillion, which is likely to come down as OTEC is scaled up. This is one third of the projected damage of $28 trillion envisioned by the insurance industry to 136 coastal cities by 2050 and would be offset by the production of over $1 trillion in electrical power annually and the harvest of desert plantations.

Posted by Jim Baird on 14 Jan 2010

Climate change predictions are often shown to be conservative. We are sitting on a timebomb with methane in the arctic already being released.

3-degrees temperature rise is now a distinct possibility and therefore 70 metres sea rise is probable (200 feet).

Posted by kiwichick on 15 Jan 2010

Common sense, empirical evidence, educated intuition, money... which of these will persuade our leadership? Who is our leadership? They are people who serve mainly one force, capitalism. As soon as we have a significant mass of humanity get that capitalism is not adult behavior ... and that mass has the courage to talk that talk ... then the direction of history will change.

But thank you so much for your evidence.

Posted by Carol isaac on 15 Jan 2010

Mr. Young and Mr. Pilkey, thank you so much for noting that ice-melt in Greenland and Antarctica is most certainly "non-linear." This is a point I've been attempting to convey in many venues.

Moreover, the fact that the three largest and fastest flowing glaciers (and perhaps others) in Greenland and the vast majority of the WAIS are "grounded" below current sea-levels portend _at_least_ 7 ft of sea-level rise this century. Coupling this grounding of that ice with the fact that water conducts thermal energy _much_ more efficiently and effectively than air and, as Mr. Baird indicated above, the vast proportion of that energy being "stored" in the oceans, the probability of global, coastal catastrophe grows exponentially.

Personally, I think the only "sane" response is to start immediately moving the coastal settlements, businesses, homes and people _away_ from the shorelines. Any attempt to "protect" the current infrastructure from even 7 ft of sea-level rise, or more, this century will most certainly be woefully inadequate for the further rise in the next, and subsequent, centuries. Doing anything other than migrating economic and human endeavors away from shorelines can only be viewed similarly to a dog "chasing" its own tail. Thanks again for a great and informative article.

Posted by colinc on 15 Jan 2010

It would be helpful if the authors were to clarify the circumstances under which a >2.0m sea level rise [SLR] would be seen this century.

For instance, if the diverse interactive positive feedbacks accelerate beyond our mitigation capacity, causing a warming of 6 to 8dC, as is entirely possible, should we really expect SLR to be only around 2.0ms ?

Alternatively, if Obama were somehow to put an end to the shameful and futile policy of appeasement of big-fossil interests, then we should have a chance of agreeing a treaty to peak global emissions by 2016 and contract them by 80% globally before 2050.

In addition to the treaty's potential for mitigation, there is also the potential for it to initiate the recovery of airborne carbon to counter the feedbacks' input by means of worldwide 'Reforestation for energy, biochar & biodiversity' [reportedly at up to 9.0GTC/yr].

In combination, mitigation plus recovery programs would dramatically lower airborne CO2 concentrations toward the pre-industial target level of around 275ppmv.

Under this entirely practical scenario, for all there is a 30 to 40 year lag from GHG output to climate destabilization impact, the warming that is driving SLR would be declining long before the end of the century. So what then would be the SLR observed ?

Perhaps the authors, in wishing not to be seen as either defeatist or scaremongering, would like to clarify just what are the mitigation &/or recovery circumstances attending the scenario they describe ?

Posted by Lewis Cleverdon on 15 Jan 2010

The article notes that "The next century of rising sea level need not be an economic disaster". Does that assume that it won't be further accelerated by more delays in serious emission control? Something that could perhaps require expensive mass migrations and in some regions the abandonment or shifting of agricultural lands.

Posted by RyanT on 15 Jan 2010

Then perhaps its time to implement solutions, and replace the fossil fuel powered electrical generating facilities!

Posted by earl on 16 Jan 2010

As usual, reality lies somewhere between the extremes of global warming "alarmists" and climate "deniers."

Global ocean levels have been rising slowly since the Pleistocene. There is no evidence that this is changing. Projections of accelerated sea level rise are from global climate models, which have yet to be proven and are known to be deficient in accurately modeling observed climate systems.

Even under the worst case scenario of the most accurate climate model, there will be little sea level rise over the next 50 years, the average life span of presently constructed buildings and infrastructure. Long before sea level rise begins to exert economic influence on coastal cities, Peak Oil and changes in energy availability will far outpace any human responses required due to sea level rise.

By 2050, we will have a completely different human society, responding to energy deficiencies in ways we can only guess at this time. We may decide it's far more efficient to just abandon those spots on the coast facing ocean inundation and storm damage, and allow people to adjust their living arrangements as necessary, over time, rather than in some enormous out of scale restructuring.

Human society is robust and resilient. Let it do its work in its own time.

Posted by Michael A. Lewis, Ph.D. on 17 Jan 2010

The authors clearly state that 7' of sea level rise isn't a best prediction, but rather is a safe, conservative one that should be used for planning. Dr. Pilkey has lead the fight for sensible coastal planning and realizes that even a foot of sea level rise will devastate the beaches of many of our barrier islands if they can not retreat inland gracefully.

I find the authors' article compelling. Frankly, many of the US's coastal cities were laid out centuries ago. Even much of the infrastructure is over 100 years old, so planning on a 100 or even 150 year horizon isn't foolish. Meanwhile, coastal engineers are planning new defenses based on current sea levels. Utterly foolish. For example the Ike Dike on Galveston Bay. A many billion dollar project now being proposed that is meant to protect homes, businesses and the largest hospital complex in Texas from hurricane surges. Yet this infrastructure sits just 5' above sea level.

And look at this article I provide a link to. 50cm of sea level rise from west Anarctica alone appears possible if not probable. Add in Greenland melt, mountain glaciers and thermal expansion and we are getting uncomfortably close to that possible 7' of rise by 2100.


Posted by Andy on 17 Jan 2010

It is important to note that the IPCC 2007 report was based on data collected prior to 2005. It was for this reason that Katherine Richardson called the Emergency Climate Conference in Copenhagen last March. This was an effort by IPCC scientists to append the 2007 report with more current updated data prior to COP15.

The Synthesis Report from the conference published in June 2009 showed conclusively that the IPCC '07 forecasts had been valuable, but that the rate and scale of change underestimated. The 2007 IPCC report was valid in that the worst case scenarios were consistently being confirmed by new research and observations, but even then - especially in terms of sea level rise - the worst case scenarios from the 2007 report became best case scenarios going forward.

Posted by Jerry Cope on 18 Jan 2010

You say: "Pacific and Indian Ocean atoll nations are already being abandoned because of the direct and indirect effects of sea level rise, such as saltwater intrusion into groundwater. In the Marshall Islands, some crops are being grown in abandoned 55-gallon oil drums because the ground is now too salty for planting. New Zealand is accepting, on a gradual basis, all of the inhabitants of the Tuvalu atolls. Inhabitants of Carteret Atoll have all moved to Papua, New Guinea. The forward-looking government of the Maldives recently held a cabinet meeting underwater to highlight the ultimate fate of their small island nation."

I have a question: A single group of islands (the Carterets) have decided to leave their homes. Which other "nations" have done so?

And some corrections:

1. Saltwater intrusion can be caused by factors other than sea level rise, such as earthworks or excessive draw-off of fresh water for industrial purposes. In healthy atolls, an underground fresh-water "lens" often holds the salt water at bay, even as the sea level rises and falls. I strongly suggest you explain this, else readers might assume that sea-level rise alone is responsible.

2. I live in Auckland, New Zealand. It is untrue that we are "accepting", or even have agreed to accept, refugees from Tuvalu. No such refugees have ever been seen. Nor has sea level rise in the vicinity of Tuvalu accelerated.

3. It is incorrect to say that all Carteret Islanders have moved to "Papua, New Guinea" (there's no such place), although they have indeed decided to move to Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. In 2009 the first five people moved there. The project languishes because the Papua New Guinea government, having given $1 million which, oddly, finished up in the hands of its own provincial "bureaucrats", now refuses to help them.

4. The innovative underwater cabinet meeting in the Maldives does not prove either sea level increase or human responsibility for it, but was a publicity stunt to gain access to the trillions of dollars hoped for from Copenhagen. In the meantime, the sea level stays resolutely where it always was and tourists flock to the lovely island nation to enjoy sea-level living at its finest and most expensive, just as they have done for generations.

It is disappointing that two academics were wrong on these simply-researched points. It almost demonstrates a lack of desire to tell the truth about them. It certainly throws a great deal of doubt on the rest of your thesis. In my opinion this is scare-mongering of the very worst kind — the sort that comes from trusted academicians.

Richard Treadgold, Convenor,
Climate Conversation Group.

Posted by Richard Treadgold on 18 Jan 2010

This is a good political article but not a good scientific one. A really good analysis on this topic can be found in the new superfreakomics book, which dispels a lot of the ludicrous myths and hyperbole on the global warming "i'.e. funds for researchers" myth.

Water levels can and may rise. We are coming out of the ice age don't forget - not a bad thing in my opinion - as i sit here shivering!

And the problems of higher sea levels CAN be managed - just look at what the Dutch have done. No need to panic, no need to freak out; just implement consistent strategies to solve the problems.

Posted by alterity on 18 Jan 2010

Thanks to richard Treadgold for providing some actual facts to this fantasy story, or should I say "future possible scenario" like the IPCC. Other facts your readers might enjoy[-or not-] are that sea levels have risen at the same rate of about 7cm per 100 years ,every hundred years for the last 5000 years. Prior to that ,sea levels rose much more quickly, and we have lots of geological proxy data indicating a rise of 125 METERS from 20000years ago till just 5000yrs ago.

Posted by ian hilliar on 19 Jan 2010

It is a disaster in itself that those who choose to be blind take the rest of us down with them. But to the ice- the actual reports out of Antartica tell a much worse case. It is not just ice melting but the Ice Sheet Collapse from surface melt lakes going to bearing rock and lubricating, now accelerating ISC.

The small 2m rise of oceans by itself lifts edge of shelf glaciers to trigger ICS on the upper slopes. So the little rise is the trigger, now suggesting 6m is a best case by 2060 and more likely 60 m by 2100. Amongst many sources see Abrupt Climate Change report US govt 3 dept
report 2008.

Posted by Richard Balfour on 20 Jan 2010

Superfreakonomic's discussion of global warming is contrarian nonsense. That's why their primary sources have loudly complained about how the authors twisted their statements and data and in some cases made up stuff and attributed these lies to their sources. Many of whom have publicly disclaimed them.

Global sea level had been stable for about 6,000 years, until about 1930. Current global sea level rise is 3.3mm per year or 33cm a century (about 13" a century). And the rate of rise is accelerating. It has doubled since the 1980's.

Posted by Andy on 21 Jan 2010

Even to a layman as me, these esteemed authors argue for preparing for 2m ocean rise with no evidence for the specific number, no risk estimates, no cost-benefit analysis. Only that Rhode Island and Miami-Dade Counties think similarly.

I am a sceptic and I made myself read this - thinking - maybe there are new facts. Nothing. What have Rob Young and Orrin Pilkey added to the sum of knowledge? Just one more 'paper' to add to their annual performance assessment.

Posted by on 26 Jan 2010

I expect mankind, driven by entrenched economic and political forces will do nothig about either CO2 emissions or seal levels for at least another 50 years. Then, as the bureaucrats in the sea side capitals wade to work in ever deepening water, they will bleat, "Why didn't you tell us this was going to happen?"

Posted by Greg Warner on 24 Feb 2010

Doing nothing is the default option the we are still accepting. Planning and looking realistically at sea level...whatever the degree of rise turns out to be...should be on the table. It's not easy, for in American politics, no good deed goes unpunished. The constituents of our politicians...ourselves...are involved in our usual work-a-day worlds. And the economic interest of most, is still more development, and more growth...and of course the jobs and incomes to support our quite comfortable, yet unsustainable lifestyles.

The last 10,000 years of human history, the Holocene, I think it's called...including all our science, religion, arts and entertainment, our industrial and economic development, everything....might one day, by future historians might lump all together...as "Chapter One: The Song of Ourselves". This is all we hear about 99% of the time. The most likely scenario, as global heating continues and accelerates, is for humanity to wait until near the last minute...and then either adapt or migrate....to the north that is. "El Norde" takes on a whole new, and ironic, meaning in this context.

Posted by Richard Bono on 12 Jul 2010

Comments have been closed on this feature.
rob young and orrin pilkeyABOUT THE AUTHORS
Rob Young, left, is director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University. Orrin Pilkey is James B. Duke Professor Emeritus in the Duke University Division of Earth and Ocean Science. They are the authors of The Rising Sea, published by Island Press.



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Environment 360
is now available for mobile devices at e360.yale.edu/mobile.


An aerial view of why Europe’s per capita carbon emissions are less than 50 percent of those in the U.S.
View the photos.

e360 VIDEO

An indigenous tribe’s deadly fight to save its ancestral land in the Amazon rainforest from logging.
Learn more.

e360 VIDEO

Food waste
An e360 video series looks at the staggering amount of food wasted in the U.S. – a problem with major human and environmental costs.
Watch the video.

e360 VIDEO

Choco rainforest Cacao
Residents of the Chocó Rainforest in Ecuador are choosing to plant cacao over logging in an effort to slow deforestation.
Watch the video.

e360 VIDEO

Tribal people and ranchers join together to stop a project that would haul coal across their Montana land.
Watch the video.