It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Tiltin' at Windmills

Texas ought to be leading the way on energy. We need it, we have an established culture of energy related industries, we have land, wind, sun and saltwater (for cooling and possibly even for hydraulic energy storage), and we have geological formations that can contain sequestered carbon.

We in Texas also have a huge coastline at huge risk from business as usual, possibly worse than anybody except Florida. That's worldwide; the other real comparable trouble spots I know of are Shanghai, Bangkok, Calcutta and parts of the Baltic region (Scandinavian and northern Slavic countries). Anyplace where the coastline is steeper (California, New England, Britain, Japan...) or the big cities are further inland has much less at stake. Sea level rise is for real, folks, and we're on the front lines. So we ought to be motivated.

What we don't have is the cultural inclination to address big problems collectively, and I'm afraid that might be a showstopper.

Texas will be either a big winner or a big loser in the coming century, I think. We ought to be pushing for change, hard, in our own selfish interests if for no other reason. It's hang together or hang separately, as old Ben Franklin once said.
I dearly love the state of Texas, but I consider that a harmless perversion on my part, and discuss it only with consenting adults.”
-Molly Ivins


Lazar said...

"filthy texas seeking to move into wind generation - big-time"

meiza said...

In Helsinki (the capital of Finland, lies by the Baltic), already in 1989 a concerned city official held hearings on global warming and new guidelines for minimum building height from the sea were given.

Still, this very house where I'm writing from was built in 1995 and the whole area development grossly disregarded the guidelines, I guess in order to make more money for the city and the development companies.

It's a more general phenomenon, the builders get their money and leave and the buyers don't have the expertise to demand long term quality. Real estate companies should understand that if they ordered a thousand apartments that will in perhaps 50 years be under water, it should show in the calculations too.

But maybe the guys who are at the helm calculate that they have retired by then anyway and it's someone else's problem.

The whole building sector is sick anyway, with under 10% extra investment heating requirements could be dropped significantly (good insulation + air heating with heat exchanger at output/input), and money would be saved, but nobody cares. That would reduce the need for coal a lot.

Dano said...

Here on the Front Range, I've been telling my staff lately that I'm fairly firmly convinced this place will substantially depopulate in 50-75 years.

By that time, it sure looks like it is likely that surface stream basins will not support the population (even after the ag transfers occur and no one farms here any more), due to the low snowpack and aquifer depletion. The beetle kill will show us a precursor in a few years as the temps will rise until successional processes happen to provide canopy cover [Eli, look at how often convection happens over the Hayman Burn and the subsequent erosion from flash flooding].

Anyway, The West has equally pressing problems for the opposite reason: not enough water.



meiza said...

To add, the northern Baltic coast regions like Vaasa are still rising from ice age depression, and it's probably faster than sea level rise from global warming, so it's possibly not a problem there. In the distant future, there could be a land bridge across the throat of the sea from Finland to Sweden.

In the south, at the level of Helsinki, the land rise is not as quick, but still my father's friend told a story how he as a young boy had had a fishnet between two islands at the sea, that are nowadays connected by almost dry ground filled with reeds. Old piers from the times of czarist Russia are left on dry land - the water will rise back to them again - but new buildings will suffer.