For all the reasons that preemptive fiscal adjustment is unlikely to happen, it’s very politically challenging to get members of congress to take action now to forestall the climate disaster that’s looming in the future. But while the DC elite is obsessed with trying to force the issue on fiscal adjustment, support for acting on climate is melting away. But Justin Gillis reminds us that glaciers are melting too, and worse than we thought a few years ago:
As a result of recent calculations that take the changes into account, many scientists now say that sea level is likely to rise perhaps three feet by 2100 — an increase that, should it come to pass, would pose a threat to coastal regions the world over.
And the calculations suggest that the rise could conceivably exceed six feet, which would put thousands of square miles of the American coastline under water and would probably displace tens of millions of people in Asia.
The scientists say that a rise of even three feet would inundate low-lying lands in many countries, rendering some areas uninhabitable. It would cause coastal flooding of the sort that now happens once or twice a century to occur every few years. It would cause much faster erosion of beaches, barrier islands and marshes. It would contaminate fresh water supplies with salt.
In Asia where they’re poor, the cost of adjusting to the new higher sea level will mostly express itself in terms of massive refugee flows, flooding, starvation, violence, and death. Here in the United States we have the resources to conduct major population evacuations. So think repeated iterations of Hurricane Katrina rather than mass starvation. But it would really make an awful lot more sense to just start restructuring the tax code to make people pay for pollution rather than for working.