Friday, September 02, 2005

New Orleans is Sinking

"My memory is muddy what's this river I'm in
New Orleans is sinking and I don't want to swim"
-The Tragically Hip

Incredible how vulnerable we are to the great forces that lie out there. We're nothing but ants on a thin crust, floating on a big ball of lava. Throw in some water and atmosphere ... and presto Earth.

Seeing all this chaos, I wonder how the future will look like. When the poles melt and the ocean rises, how will New York, Boston, Mumbai, Tokyo, Shanghai and other low lying cities cope? In New Orleans, like Venice, the earth it's sitting on is itself sinking. And on top of that storms are getting worse.

Is anyone paying attention? From the Earth Policy Reader:
Insured damage from storms is rising for four reasons. One, more property is covered by insurance today than in the past. Two, the value of the property (as measured in dollars) has increased. Three, there is more building in coastal regions, on river floodplains, and in other high-risk areas. And four, storms are both more frequent and more powerful.

And as the oil prices rise, it's not just the cities, but the whole infrastructure of our economies that might just collapse.
Few countries have researched extensively the effect of rising seas on their economies and population distribution. A World Bank report concludes that a 1-meter sea level rise would inundate half of Bangladesh’s riceland. For a country with 133 million people projected to reach 209 million by 2050, the prospect of losing half of its rice harvest is not a pleasant one.

I hope we wake up before we're underwater.