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It Can Happen Here

It can happen here: New Orleans was no fluke. In fact, it was largely a man-made tragedy, an ecological, social, economic and human disaster over a century in the making. There is some statistic I can't remember with precision that something like half the world's population lives within 100 miles of the ocean. It is no idle chatter, then, that the state of coastlines and climate will have an inordinate impact on human life quality as water levels rise and weather patterns change in response to a warming world. Any random news cycle picks up one or two new nuggets about how quickly and alarmingly these changes are now proven to be taking place. For example, this one:

Global warming fastest for 20,000 years - and it is mankind's fault 
By Steve Connor, Science Editor 
Published: 04 May 2006 

In addition to Alaska's documented melted and the acceleration of loss of Antarctic ice and the Greenland Ice Sheet, it is now known that continental glaciers are evaporating faster than thought as well:

Ice-capped roof of world turns to desert 
Scientists warn of ecological catastrophe across Asia as glaciers melt and continent's great rivers dry up 
By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor

So who cares? We'll just turn up the AC, right? Well, we'd better start caring a hell of a lot more about the effect on our coasts. In addition to the criminal negligence that still afflicts the people of New Orleans--and of course, its most vulnerable residents all the more--the smugness that distance grants us is a luxury we can no longer afford. As developers fight to build as close as possible to water's edge, the underlying assumption is that it couldn't possibly happen here. Think again, and ask yourself whether we are wise to keep proposing and approving projects that crowd our coastlines:

Threat of Major Hurricane Strike Grows for Northeast
AccuWeather.com Warns That "Weather Disaster of Historic Proportions" Could Strike as Early as This Year 

Additionally, see:

Meltdown fear as Arctic ice cover falls to record winter low 
David Adam, environment correspondent
Monday May 15, 2006

Writer, singer, linguist and activist Daniel Patrick Welch lives and writes in Salem, Massachusetts, with his wife, Julia Nambalirwa-Lugudde. Together they run The Greenhouse School. Some of his articles have been broadcast on radio, and translations are available in up to 20 languages. Links to the website are appreciated at danielpwelch.com.