High Tide on Main Street: Rising Sea Level and the Coming Coastal Crisis

John Englander. The Science Bookshelf, $19.95 paper (244p) ISBN 978-0-615-63795-2
Englander provides a cogent and sobering glimpse at the effects of rising sea levels that is underway and will persist for at least a thousand years. Sea levels have been relatively stable in civilized history, but with carbon dioxide levels at a 15 million–year high, history shows that sea levels will rise 50 feet from current levels, assuming no further warming. By avoiding rhetorical frenzy, Englander gives more credence to the dire scenarios he outlines; e.g., the widespread disappearance of glaciers, possibly within decades, may eliminate water supplies for more than a billion people. The elimination of heat-reflecting ice will speed up the warming process, with major changes in global weather patterns. With the destruction of whole nations possible, an OECD study envisioning damage of $35 trillion—twice the 2010 U.S. GDP—in 136 port cities worldwide by 2070 seems secondary. Englander's copious citations, graphics, and glimpses of scientific thinking illustrate the persuasive extent of evidence to support his thesis. The author sees no simple way or magical technology to slow sea level rise, but urges the absolute need to begin planning for unavoidable changes. Few who read this challenging primer will venture to disagree.
Reviewed on: 04/22/2013
Release date: 10/01/2012
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