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Letter: Gateway should watch out for rising tides

Original post made on Aug 11, 2010

If the Menlo Gateway project is built, it will be submerged under water when global warming causes sea and Bay levels to rise. For details, check the map in Al Gore's book, An Inconvenient Truth.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, August 11, 2010, 12:00 AM

Comments (14)

Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 12, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Here's another map that let's you switch between map and satellite view, zoom into your neighborhood, and change the increase in sea level in one-meter increments. Web Link
Surprising how much will be flooded with a rise of only one meter. The SUN campus becomes an island with most of highway 84 and Willow Road underwater. Lots of neighborhoods in RWC west of 101 will be flooded too. Areas of Menlo Park and Atherton west of 101 look to be pretty protected for sea level rise as great as 5 or 6 meters.
I don't expect to live to see this but at current rates of global temperature increase I could be in for an inconvenient old age.

Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 12, 2010 at 7:07 pm

Steve, Steve, Steve...

It takes 10,000 gigatons of melted ice to raise the oceans by just ONE INCH.

To put amount ice into perspective, a sheet of ice one foot thick would have to cover the state of Rhode Island to be ONE gigaton. Now multiply that by 390,000 (39 inches x 10,000) and you and Al Gore will have that first meter you are so worried about.

Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 12, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Pogo -
And your point is . . . ?
"In the 20th century, sea level rise was primarily due to thermal expansion of ocean water. Contributions of melting mountain glaciers and the large ice sheets were minor components. But most climate scientists now believe that the main drivers of sea level rise in the 21st century will be the melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (a potential of a 16-foot rise if the entire sheet melts) and the Greenland Ice Sheet (a potential rise of 20 feet if the entire ice cap melts)." Web Link

BTW - the area of Rhode Island is 2000 sq miles. The area of Antarctca is 5,400,000 sq miles. And the ice is a lot thicker in Antarctica than one foot (would you believe an average thickness of 6,500 feet (=78,000 inches)? Web Link

It doesn't take math skills or even imagination to anticipate sea level rises of the order of several meters - just a knowledge of the geologically recent past: "Melting ice on Greenland raised global sea level by three and half meters (about 11 feet) in the last interglacial," Rignot says, "this is where we are heading and it looks like we could get there much sooner than we thought." Web Link

Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 13, 2010 at 10:08 am

Steve, you made my point quite nicely, even if unintentionally. There are many reasons to support or oppose this project - rising seas is hardly one of them.

First, I'm not aware of a single climatologist has ever even suggested the ENTIRE Antarctic ice cap will melt - so that 16 foot rise you noted is just a bit hyperbolic, don't you think? Even our ex-Vice President appears to be distancing himself from those kinds of scare tactics between stops in his Gulfstream V.

ONE gigaton is a one foot thick sheet of ice that is the size of Rhode Island. Yes, Antarctica is a whopping 5.4 million square miles which is "just" 2,700 times the size of Rhode Island. Just melt that much ice - one foot thick AND the size of Antarctica - 144 more times and we'll have that 1 meter rise you fear.

Finally, the interglacials you cited (where seas rose 3 meters) lasted tens of thousands of years. That doesn't mean we shouldn't worry about it, but it does mean you don't have to run for the hills very quickly.

By the way, did you know the sun will probably burn out in a few billion years, too? Just another thing to worry about...

Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 13, 2010 at 12:47 pm

Actually the 16 feet of sea level rise is what's estimated if only the Western Antarctic Ice Shelf (WAIS) melts. If all Antarctic ice were to melt you'd be looking at 60 meters of sea level rise. Web Link
You're right that no one is predicting that the whole of the WAIS will melt in a century. The estimates referenced above vary between 2.5 and 7 feet of sea level rise by 2100. That's still pretty significant - especially if you live east of 101. And there's no reason to think that melting will stop in 2100 - at current rates of GHG emissions and temperature increases, the rate of melting will likely be increasing if anything.
You mention that interglacial periods lasted tens of thousands of years. But that's not what's important. It's how quickly conditions change from glacial (low sea level with water trapped in ice) to inter-glacial (hi sea level where the glaciers have largely melted). Besides, in the current situation, it's not a natural climate fluctuation producing increased melting. Instead, it's being driven by increasing GHG that's producing not only the highest temperatures ever recorded (proxy or measured) but the highest rate of increase in temperature, a rate that shows no sign of slowing.
The sun will burn out in a few billion years. That's so far in the future that I don't really care. Besides, there's nothing anyone can do to stop it. However, the sea level changes we're talking about are going to happen in only a few hundred years. Our descendants will live through these changes and I expect they'll care very much about what will have been lost as the sea encroaches on the land. And they'll curse the generation that could have done something about it but instead chose to stick heads firmly in the sand because they didn't want to be inconvenienced.

Posted by Leslie Gore
a resident of another community
on Aug 13, 2010 at 3:58 pm

It's my planet and I'll cry if I want to
Cry if I want to
Cry if I want to
You should Cry too
You dumb Greenie Boob

Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 13, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Leslie -

Isn't Boob objectionable content?

Posted by Leslie Gore
a resident of another community
on Aug 13, 2010 at 4:14 pm


6 dictionary results

1. a stupid person; fool; dunce.

Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 13, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Leslie -

So you have better information than I've provided? Or do you just prefer calling people names who you disagree with?

Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 13, 2010 at 4:26 pm


Your position on Global Warming perplexes me. The scientific evidence is, by and large, solid.
The solutions, though expensive, are good for us for a number of reasons other than slowing Climate Change - reduced dependence on foreign oil, reduced $$ going to our enemies; reduced strip mining for coal and oil shales; reduced pollution; etc.
Are you so wedded to the status quo that you can't imagine a better way for the human race to obtain energy? And if you can imagine it, why aren't you pushing for it rather than obstructing?
This cartoon makes me think of you: Web Link

Posted by Fan of Pogo
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 13, 2010 at 4:44 pm

It's the obstinate environmentalists that got us in this situation. While there are plenty of safe places on land and in shallow waters the crazed environmentalists have forced oil exploration off shore into deep waters where there is far greater risk of accidents. They have managed to ban safe nuclear energy. France exports nuclear power to other countries. France, Japan & Brazil get 80 + % of their electricity from nuclear reactors.

If we want to truly become energy independent we have got to start reversing this environmental insanity which has not only driven our country into deep debt but places our national security at risk also.

BTW, the place in Anwar where reasonable people advocate oil exploration is on bare arctic tundra hundreds of miles from the majestic mountains the Sierra Club puts in its advertisements. This is equivalant to showing a picture of the Yosemite Valley and saying it is in the middle of the Anza Borrego Desert. Also the drilling area in Anwar is less than 2% of the total land.

People in this country are being hoodwinked by the hysterical environmentalist movement and they have the far left press cheering the movement on.

Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 13, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Fan of POGO-
I'm a fan of POGO too - I just think in this case he's letting ideology cloud his usually rational thinking. Something we're probably all susceptible to.
In your letter there's parts I agree with, other parts I part company.
For one thing, I wouldn't call Jeb Bush an obstinate environmentalist, even though he lead the fight no keep offshore drilling away from Florida waters. Given that Florida derives more income from tourists who visit it's pristine beaches than it would ever earn in taxes on offshore oil, this is a clearly rational decision based on economic self interest more than environmental concern.
But to paraphrase you: "If we want to truly become energy independent we have got to start reversing this oil-based insanity which has not only driven our country into deep debt but places our national security at risk also."
How many $Billions go overseas every year (much to our enemies in the middle east and Venezuela) to pay for our addiction to oil? Would you believe $22 Billion for imported oil in June alone? That's nearly 25% of our monthly trade deficit due to importing 312 million barrels of oil- for just one month! And that oil all gets burned and largely converted to CO2 at the rate of roughly 1000 lbs of CO2 per barrel. So our oil imports every month basically add 312 billion pounds of CO2 to the atmosphere. Then add in the CO2 contribution from our domestic oil production along with coal and natural gas and it's not hard to see why we have a Climate Change problem.
I agree that we need alternatives to oil and I'm not shy about arguing that nuclear has to be a big part of the mix. You're absolutely right that France has shown that nuclear can be done responsibly and they've set the standard the rest of the developed and developing world need to follow. Wind, solar, geothermal need to be an increasing part of the mix but there's no way to wean ourselves from oil without nuclear. None that I'm aware of at this time anyway.

Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 13, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Don't be perplexed, Steve. I absolutely believe there is global warming - err, I mean, climate change - I am just a bit less sure about the human contribution than you. Yes, I know humans make a contribution, I'm just not sure what the impact truly is. (BTW, we've had this exchange before.)

We've rushed to judgement before and these ventures are not "risk free" (what's the harm...), as you suggest. They cost lots of money, cost lots of jobs and often have terrible unintended consequences. Remember how experts thought we should add MTBE to our gasoline to reduce pollution and it ended up ruining water supplies? Oops. Remember the experts screaming about the coming bird flu and swine flu pandemics that would kill "millions"? They were wrong. How about those global cooling warnings I remember reading about in college? Didn't happen. I could go on, Steve. Experts aren't always right and the answers they suggest are often not responsive to the problem.

As far as the current crop of proposed regulations - carbon offsets, cap and trade, energy taxes, UN commerce mandates, etc. - their primary purpose appears to be to "hamstring" Western economies (that ironically operate relatively cleanly) while allowing other economies such as China and India (the world's biggest polluters) to prosper. Have you been to Beijing lately? You can't even see across the street for the pollution! I was in Los Angeles last month and it was so clear that I could see the Pacific Ocean from the hills in Sherman Oaks. If reducing green house gases is the object, then don't exempt the biggest polluters.

Regarding conservation and alternative energy sources, I'm for both. I'm tired of the "either/or" choices presented by most politicians and zealots. Green advocates seem to want only conservation and no energy exploration; others seem to want the opposite. Excuse me, why not do BOTH? And my "Fan" (OMG, I have a FAN!!!), is absolutely right, we should be drilling in ANWAR and not in deep water. Why not conserve AND find more energy, especially the low hanging fruit in Alaska.

I don't just say "no" - I humbly offer a solution. China is building two coal power plants A WEEK. My answer is to commission one new nuclear power plant every other week (and yes, I know how long that would take to get started). IF WE DID NOTHING BUT THIS, in just one decade, we could close every existing coal and gas power plant in the entire country (our biggest polluters) and foreign oil imports could be limited to augmenting domestic oil supplies for gasoline. Not a bad solution... but the green advocates don't like nuclear power, do they?

No, Steve, I'm hardly wedded to the status quo as you suggest.

OMG, I have a fan! (Did I already say that?)

Posted by Mack Truck
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 17, 2017 at 3:16 pm

"China is building two coal power plants A WEEK."

Nah b. Not no mo' (apologies to AI)

"In latest move, China halts over 100 coal power projects" Web Link
"China's energy regulator has ordered 11 provinces to stop more than 100 coal-fired power projects, with a combined installed capacity of more than 100 gigawatts, its latest dramatic step to curb the use of fossil fuels in the world's top energy market."

Funny to look back at deniers. Funny in such a sad, sad way.

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