The Rising Tide

The Rising Tide

Voniel Brown, Reporter

The planet is a very dynamic entity, that is very susceptible to change. The environment can change very drastically, leaving us unable to do a thing. For years scientist have been warning us about global warming, and its devastating effects on the planet. They have warned about the polar ice caps melting, which would then lead to the increase in sea levels. Recent data has shown that the sea levels are indeed rising and will engulf many coastal areas around the world.

One island nation hangs on the balance of existence, due to the rising ocean levels. The Maldives is an archipelago situated off the coast of India in the Indian Ocean and is comprised of 1,190 islands. The highest point of the country is only 2.4 meters above the sea-level while, the average height is about 1.5 meters high. Previous reports state that about 80% of the islands will disappear into the water, if the sea-level was to rise 1.5 meters high.   According to reports, from 1880 to 2009 the global average sea level has risen by about 8 inches. Despite the fact that the numbers seem insignificant, this should not be taken lightly. For island nations such as the Maldives, this is a life or death situation, which does not look to be getting better.

Due to the increase of sea levels, seawater erodes the coast line more aggressively. This does not bode well for the inhabitants of the Maldives, who will have to search to a new place to live. In an effort to raise awareness of the problem that plagues their country, the Maldives Cabinet held a meeting underwater with the Maldives president Mohamed Nasheed.

The Maldives represent the very extreme of the current situation we are faced with, due to the continued accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. While the entire United States is not in danger of sinking into the depths, the East Coast is in danger of being taken over by the Atlantic Ocean. Cities and towns that could be affected are Sandy Hook, Montauk, Bridgeport, Queens, Atlantic City, Cape May, and Baltimore. This is very detrimental for the country, since much of the population and economy of the country is concentrated along the East Coast. The increase in sea levels can be connectedd to the devastating flooding that occurred during Hurricane Sandy. The higher sea level causes higher tidal surges during storms such as Sandy.

Evidence taken by the Coast Guard suggest that the rise in the sea-level was most likely accelerated, to about a foot a century. Scientist believe that it will continue to accelerate even more, due to the greenhouse gases that continue to be emitted and trapped in the atmosphere. This in turn heats up the planet and causes the polar ice caps to melt even faster. The East Coast is sinking because, the ice sheets that covered much of Canada and the northern peaks of the United States has melted. Due to the weight that the ice sheets exerted on the earth, the areas surrounding it bulged up, while the area directly underneath was depressed. Now that the weight from the ice sheets in gone, the bulge along the East Coast is starting to sink due to the lack of pressure. The sinking is occurring from southern Maine all the way to northern Florida.

The fastest sinking is occurring predominantly in the Chesapeake Bay region, which was originally created by a meteor that landed over 35 million years ago.  Much like the apparent fate of Maldives, the islands in the Chesapeake Bay that used to flourish are now underneath the water. One such island is Holland Island, which had been inhabited by 400 hundred residents until they were forced to evacuate. In 2010 the only sign that the island had ever existed was a lone house which was surrounded on all sides by water.  It finally succumbed to the sea, when it collapsed due to the erosion caused by the water. Another area drastically affected is Norfolk, which might be caused by the meteor that had impacted the Chesapeake.  The meteor weakened the sediments in a 50 mile radius of the crater. The weakened sediment makes Norfolk easily susceptible to the erosion of the rising tides. The flooding is so severe that communities are being flooded absent of the presence of storms. It is spending millions to try and raise streets and to improve the drainage system, however, it would cost as much as $1 billion dollars to really protect the city.  Needless to say, that money does not exist.

The rising sea levels can no longer be ignored, too much is at stake for us to sit still and continue to watch them rise. At the current rate that the ocean is rising, within the century, an entire redrawing of the East Coast will be need. Both the Maldives and the East Coast sinking should be taken as a sign that real change is coming.  Instead of constantly rebuilding on the same spot, we should look at how to improve our situation, so that the flood can be avoided in the future. Produce a substantial change, so that people can live safely.