Ho-hum. Another day, another prophet of doom.
Today’s Cassandra du Jour is someone named Benjamin Strauss from something called Climate Central. Strauss concludes that without an immediate deep reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, 1,700 U.S. cities will be underwater by the end of this century.
And even if we stop adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere right now, 80 cities including Hoboken, N.J., and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., are already toast. Frank Sinatra’s hometown sinks beneath the sea! Pictures at 11!
Strauss’s conclusions have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (not the National Enquirer) and run through the news cycle. Headlines everywhere. Hard to miss.
You may be wondering if Strauss is just some paranoid nutcase. If he is, he’s a paranoid nutcase with a PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology from Princeton, a master’s in zoology from the University of Washington, and a BA in biology from Yale. A beautiful mind.
Climate Central certainly sounds reputable: “An independent organization of leading scientists and journalists researching and reporting the facts about our changing climate and its impact on the American public.” Such as 1,700 cities will be sleeping with the fishes by 2100.
This is not just an American wet dream: Various studies have also earmarked several coastal Canadian cities, such as Vancouver and Halifax, for the Big Bath.
So what’s going on here? Why aren’t we all stampeding for higher ground? Even if 2100 seems a long way off, the sheer scale of this inundation should have us building big boats in our backyards and pairing off the raccoons and Pomeranians, especially if we live in Hoboken or Fort Lauderdale.
But nothing’s going on here. The U.S. president has a “plan,” but it’s hardly an emergency response, and even if the U.S. starts cutting emissions and shoring up dikes, that supposedly won’t hold back the tide. And, of course, our Prime Minister Stephen Harper sees the emission of greenhouse gas as a patriotic act.
We obviously don’t believe Strauss or all those other guys with letters after their names. Apparently, the skeptics have done a great job of painting them as a bunch of careerists so greedy for grants they’ll say anything, no matter how over the top. If anyone’s all wet, it’s Strauss and all those other scientists (dirty word).
Still, aren’t you a bit creeped out? What if Strauss is only half right, or a quarter right? What if the skeptics, who don’t have nearly as many letters after their names, are the wet ones?
Is there anybody out there who can tell us the truth? It’s a simple, honest question: How high’s the water, daddy? Really?