×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Protecting At-Risk Cities From Rising Seas

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the steal-moses'-superpowers dept.

Earth 243

Hugh Pickens writes "BBC reports that with about 10 million people in England and Wales living in flood risk areas, rising sea levels and more storms could mean that parts of at-risk cities will need to be surrendered to protect homes and businesses, and that 'radical thinking' is needed to develop sea defenses that can cope with the future threats. 'If we act now, we can adapt in such a way that will prevent mass disruption and allow coastal communities to continue to prosper,' says Ruth Reed, President of the Royal Institute of British Architects. 'But the key word is "now."' Changing sea levels is not a new phenomenon. In the Netherlands, for example, with 40% of its surface under sea level, water management and water defense have been practiced since time immemorial; creating mounds and dykes, windmills, canals with locks and sluices, the Delta Works and the Afsluitdijk, all to keep the water out. Similar solutions to protect British cities are based on three themes (PDF): moving 'critical infrastructure' and housing to safer ground, allowing the water into parts of the city; building city-wide sea defenses to ensure water does not enter the existing urban area; and extending the existing coastline and building out onto the water (using stilts, floating structures and/or land reclamation)."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

243 comments

Other news (3, Funny)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30790750)

In other news, Himalayas have seen a surge of new visitors and people moving in.

Re:Other news (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30790762)

Everyone was laughing at me for building a giant boat in my back yard. Who's laughing now, suckers!

Re:Other news (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30790834)

Not the unicorns, that's for damn sure.

the ultimate solution (4, Insightful)

arcite (661011) | more than 4 years ago | (#30790774)

Live in a house boat. They float. An chicks dig house boats.

Sleepwalking? (2, Funny)

RotateLeftByte (797477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30790792)

A bit dangerous if you live in a houseboat.

Re:Sleepwalking? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30790852)

If you've got a healthy sex life, you should already be wearing water wings to bed. You'll be fine.

Re:Sleepwalking? (2, Funny)

Gruff1002 (717818) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791568)

Informative? Obviously the moderator hasn't a clue why you would need water wings in a sexual situation.

Re:the ultimate solution (2, Funny)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 4 years ago | (#30790960)

Though getting out of bed on the wrong side <splooosh> is a bit of a bummer.

Re:the ultimate solution (2, Funny)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791092)

There is always a good side to things too. It's a quick way to get off the ugly fat girl you took home from bar last night.

Re:the ultimate solution (2, Funny)

MRe_nl (306212) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791556)

Unless, of course, she's a witch.
In which case...
Villagers: (enter yelling) A witch! A witch! We've found a witch! Burn her! Burn her!

Re:the ultimate solution (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791358)

"Live in a house boat. They float. An chicks dig house boats."

Two words: "Storm surge".

Re:the ultimate solution (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30791676)

"Live in a house boat. They float. An chicks dig house boats."

Two words: "Storm surge".

hahahahahaha, that was.

as unfunny as this post.

The solution seems obvious (1)

dingen (958134) | more than 4 years ago | (#30790804)

Hire some Dutchmen to fix it.

Re:The solution seems obvious (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30790862)

There are two types of people I can't stand:

People who are intolerant of other people's cultures.

And the Dutch.

Re:The solution seems obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30791200)

The Dutch are *MAD*
Their fingers stuck in dykes
They use the wrong side of the road
And ride around on bikes
Don't have any manners
Don't say "thanks" or "please"
All they eat is tulips
And stinking gouda cheese!

-- "British Tourist", John Dowie/a [beemp3.com]

Re:The solution seems obvious (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30791228)

Whats wrong with sticking your fingers in dykes? I quite enjoy it.

Re:The solution seems obvious (2, Insightful)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791310)

Well, time will take care of anyone living below sea level at some point. But I agree about the intolerant people. In fact, I think we have to just take all the intolerant people and string them up from a tree or something...
Oh, Hey Guys! Wow, that's a nice rope you got there! What GLACKKkkkk

Very True (1)

omb (759389) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791224)

Having liver in the Netherlands for 3 years on and off, yes, they could fix it and the trains so they worked in snow.

The only thing you have to stop them touching is the roads, or they will turn them all into 'langsamwegs'

Re:The solution seems obvious (3, Interesting)

tsa (15680) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791248)

We will earn shitloads of money in the coming decades, building dikes and other stuff for other countries. If I had to choose a study now I would go to Delft, where all the relevant education concerning that is given.

Hold Up Here (1)

The Wild Norseman (1404891) | more than 4 years ago | (#30790806)

So they're saying that sea levels are, in fact, rising around the planet enough to endanger mass cities? Beachfront property in Leicester FTW! Woot!

Re:Hold Up Here (2, Informative)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30790944)

From this article (by a unabashed pro-global warming person), the estimate is 3 feet by 2100.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/03/0323_060323_global_warming.html [nationalgeographic.com]
"By the end of this century the seas may be three feet (one meter) higher than they are today, according to a pair of studies that appear in tomorrow's issue of the journal Science."

This other pro global warming site has a different figure (backed up by several other sites)
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11049-major-climate-change-report-looks-set-to-alarm.html [newscientist.com]
"the new report is believed to predict that sea-levels will rise by between 28 centimetres and 43 cm by 2100" (16 inches).

Personally, I think building properties on the edge of the ocean and subsidence from pumping groundwater are more significant to the problem.

In 99% of the globe, raising sea levels 16" is not going to significantly change the coastline.

Re:Hold Up Here (2, Interesting)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791016)

Found this after I posted...

It has some nice graphs of actual sea level change vs various IPCC predictions and says in part...

"... I conclude that the ongoing debate about future sea level rise is entirely appropriate. The fact that the IPCC has been unsuccessful in predicting sea level rise, does not mean that things are worse or better, but simply that scientists clearly do not have a handle on this issue and are unable to predict sea level changes on a decadal scale. The lack of predictive accuracy does not lend optimism about the prospects for accuracy on the multi-decadal scale. Consider that the 2007 IPCC took a pass on predicting near term sea level rise, choosing instead to focus 90 years out (as far as I am aware, anyone who knows differently, please let me know)."

Re:Hold Up Here (2, Informative)

Bjrn (4836) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791800)

That New Scientist article is from 2007. Here is one from July 2009: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20327151.300-sea-level-rise-its-worse-than-we-thought.html?page=1 [newscientist.com] .

In its 2007 report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) forecast a sea level rise of between 19 and 59 centimetres by 2100, but this excluded "future rapid dynamical changes in ice flow".

...

If this trend continues, Rignot thinks sea level rise will exceed 1 metre by 2100. So understanding why Greenland and Antarctica are already losing ice faster than predicted is crucial to improving our predictions. The main reason for the increase is the speeding up of glaciers that drain the ice sheets into the sea.

Interesting Novel idea (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30790810)

Do anyone has thought that instead of investing resources in fighting rising levels, it may be cheaper and safer constructing in the long run on higher terrain (england has many country parts), New Orleans tried to do the same and look at the social and economic impact it had

Xirvin

Re:Interesting Novel idea (3, Interesting)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30790954)

People can't think in terms of replacing cities because the idea that cities are changing instead of truly permanent is completely outside what they are taught. They cling to cities they should simply abandon and bulldoze (Detroit, the below-sea-level areas of New Orleans) for no logical reason.

Cities are cheap to replace, there is plenty of room, and the way to get better cities (especially in the US) is to smash old infrastructure instead of trying to save it.

Rising sea levels could force healthy changes to current urban areas by making them untenable.

Re:Interesting Novel idea (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791128)

Cities are cheap to replace

I take it you've actually done a cost estimate on rebuilding a city from scratch?

If so, can you share the results with the rest of us?

My back of the envelope guesstimate looks like somewhere between $100K and $1M per person to recreate a city elsewhere. Which isn't within my definition of "cheap"....

Re:Interesting Novel idea (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30791366)

Cities are cheap to replace

I take it you've actually done a cost estimate on rebuilding a city from scratch?

If so, can you share the results with the rest of us?

My back of the envelope guesstimate looks like somewhere between $100K and $1M per person to recreate a city elsewhere. Which isn't within my definition of "cheap"....

Actually cities are cheaper to replace than upgrade. When you take into account demolision, removing material on top of the usual construction cost is no wonder why countries like India decided to construct New Delhi designed by Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, to replace their old capital Calcutta. This was also done by Brazil with Brasilia . The construction of a new city can help england save money long term in maintenance (which will be an ongoing cost til their system breaks or ocean level decent, whichever occurs first...) and implementation cost. Trying to fight rising levels of ocean water put the country at a disadvantagewith other countries as significant resources are spent maintaining the system instead of spending it in education, healthcare or better causes.

Re:Interesting Novel idea (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791488)

Cities are normally "replaced" in-place as decades go by, so it is fair to call the replacement process "cheap". Builders can simply build on high ground and not replace low-lying structures. Old cities are obstacles to urban improvement. Consider the modern cities of Germany and Japan that started from blank slates in 1945 vs the decaying cities of the US Rust Belt.

Slums such as most of NOLA can be removed and not replaced, which is "cheaper" than rebuilding a ghetto. The whole idea of warehousing poor people in cities where they will always remain poor is discredited. Even if they are used to that economic prison they should be freed from it by displacement.

Dispersing dependant populations out of coastal cities would facilitate gentrification of the newly built areas and economic health. That's better than "cheap".

Re:Interesting Novel idea (3, Informative)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791152)

Cities are cheap to replace, there is plenty of room, and the way to get better cities (especially in the US) is to smash old infrastructure instead of trying to save it.

That idea in the 1950s and '60s was called "urban renewal," and it led to entire neighborhoods of solid old buildings being knocked down and replaced with shoddy crap. Not to mention that, you know, people lived there, and the effects on them were pretty destructive. Ever thought about why "living in the projects" is considered to be a bad thing? There may occasionally be times when "bulldoze it all away" is the right solution -- sections of Detroit, as you mention, are largely deserted and probably unsalvageable -- but such times are very much the exception.

Re:Interesting Novel idea (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791526)

Historically, that was the function (intended or unintended) of fires. The great fires in Rome and London did significant amounts of damage, but also opened the way for some renewal in areas of those cities that had been falling into decay.

Re:Interesting Novel idea (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791578)

We know our settlements are changing. We don't have many Roman buildings (although there are many more Roman streets). Are you really suggesting demolishing (or allowing to fall into ruin) many of the best, living examples of 2000+ years of human culture and civilisation?

Re:Interesting Novel idea (4, Interesting)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791072)

New Orleans did it badly. The Corps of Engineers had been warning for a very, very long time that the levees were in terrible shape (and in many cases poorly sited) but everyone ignored the warnings until they were illustrated in dramatic fashion.

How long a time? Well, my great-grandfather, William Elam, was one of the leading hydrological engineers of his day; he wrote "Speeding Floods to the Sea" which was pretty much the standard textbook on flood control on the Mississippi for the mid-twentieth century. And he warned about a Katrina-type scenario then, in 1946, and probably well before that. The knowledge was there to fix the problem. What was lacking, for decades, was the political will.

Re:Interesting Novel idea (2, Informative)

mikael (484) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791722)

Discovery channel in the 1990's ran a series of worst-case disasters like mega-earthquakes, mega-volcanoes, mega-tornadoes, mega-whatever... One of the episodes was a what-if scenario of a hurricane landing on New Orleans. Even then it was just brushed off as a one in two hundred years event.

Re:Interesting Novel idea (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791854)

New Orleans didn't need to do it at all.

The idea of building in such an area was excusable when people knew no better, but the vast space available in the US means there is now no intelligent reason to have anything but a port and supporting infrastructure in NOLA.

I can explain. (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791340)

Do anyone has thought that instead of investing resources in fighting rising levels

It's simple. The City of London (i.e. the financial district in London) is at risk. They pretty much own the government/country, so of course taxes are going to be raised to implement flood defences.

 

Yeah, right (5, Funny)

Guido del Confuso (80037) | more than 4 years ago | (#30790836)

the Delta Works and the Afsluitdijk

I've heard of some crazy Scandinavian names, but come on. That's just somebody banging on the keyboard. Next you're going to tell me about the famed Swedish Lkajadsfglkn.

Re:Yeah, right (1)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 4 years ago | (#30790872)

Afsluitdijk translates (if translated literally) to English as "Obstructdike".

Re:Yeah, right (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30791058)

"Offshutdike" is more like it, if you want to translate literally.

"Shutoffdike" is probably the best translation without being literal.

Re:Yeah, right (3, Informative)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 4 years ago | (#30790900)

That's hardly a strange name. Not if you know that the Dutch have a seperate "vowel" which is i and j combined (ij) and sounds almost the same as "y" in "why". Do the Dutch word dijk becomes the English word "dyke". The word "afsluit" is equivalent to the English words "close down". In essence it means "a dyke that closes down" and it's a reference to the sea inlet called the Zuidersea (or South Sea) and turned into a lake. Yes, the South Sea was originally the other connected to the "North Sea" until we pacified its rough waters. It's a source of engineering pride for us.

Re:Yeah, right (1)

Rob Kaper (5960) | more than 4 years ago | (#30790984)

One of the seven wonders of the modern world even. And screw the Chinese wall: if any man-made engineering feat actully is visible from space, it has to be Flevoland.

It's How We Are (1, Interesting)

mindbrane (1548037) | more than 4 years ago | (#30790858)

Historically and prehistorically we've demonstrated that we have a strong preference for, and, derive much benefit from inhabiting coastal areas. The economic spin-offs in job creation, and knowledge gleaned from the engineering would be considerable and highly portable to the maintenance and development of any large urban area. Lastly the more we learn about and enable our long term habitation of coastal areas, the more we'll learn about our impact on the environment and the costs to ourselves. We can now landscape and engineer high density urban areas that are liveable and interesting but there is a need to cost externalities and recognize emergent economic activity incurred in terms of environmental impact and degradation.

Re:It's How We Are (2, Informative)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30790890)

We can now landscape and engineer high density urban areas that are liveable

For some of us, that's a contradiction in terms. Not everyone can feel comfortable in a rat warr..err, "high density urban area".

Re:It's How We Are (1)

mindbrane (1548037) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791196)

in a rat warr..err

The quality of life and amenities available in the urban core of a world class city make the rat warr..er lifers of the outback look like primitive mammals popping out of gapes in the broken, sparse infrastructure of some small town. But sessions of near total isolation in a wilderness area, well I'm all for that.

Re:It's How We Are (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30791328)

The quality of life and amenities available in the urban core of a world class city make the rat warr..er lifers of the outback look like primitive mammals popping out of gapes in the broken, sparse infrastructure of some small town.

Actually, I think you got that backwards..

Re:It's How We Are (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791876)

We don't have to give up on inhabiting coastal areas, but we don't have to locate in flood zones and highly vulnerable areas. We can make decisions based on logic instead of emotion, and those of us who will get skinned by the taxman to pay for the stupid choices of others can fight back.

90 years in the future... (1)

GiveBenADollar (1722738) | more than 4 years ago | (#30790882)

Ok, so the scenario is based on 90 years in the future assuming a continuing sea level increase. So by 90 years in the future there will need to be either a movement of cities, or a man made defense for floods in place. Yup, this is front page material worthy of a panic. Thanks BBC.

Re:90 years in the future... (2, Interesting)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#30790950)

When you're talking about coastal areas as densely populated as much of England's are, 90 years is about the right amount of time to plan. Short-sighted, "ahhh, we'll worry about it when it happens" thinking is responsible for most of the death and destruction from natural disasters of any sort.

Re:90 years in the future... (1)

GiveBenADollar (1722738) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791106)

My point is that in 90 years the entire cityscape will change. I'm not saying it isn't worth doing. I'm just saying that by just reading the headline you get the impression that radical things need to be done NOW and in a PANIC. The things proposed are not radical, and no need to panic. Compared to New Orleans. They did have issues with low lying areas and they ignored them for years. In that case it was time to act now and in a panic, but the panic only happened after hurricane Katrina. I'm not advocating ignoring the problem, but just saying "Don't Panic."

Re:90 years in the future... (1)

zz5555 (998945) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791806)

I read the article and didn't see anything particularly panicky about it (but then, I don't panic easily - maybe others are more easily affected by the headline). Just that people need to start thinking about it now and decide how to deal with the future problem (that would likely affect some structures in much less than 90 years). If they're going to let the water do what it wants, then they'll have to decide how to deal with that: appropriate property when they can, prohibit new construction in the new flood area, etc. Much of that property is likely to be very expensive, so amortizing that over 90 years would be useful. Of course, the property is likely to become much cheaper as time goes on, so that should be taken into account. And keep in mind that sea level rise is not likely to stop in 2100, so this really becomes a long term issue and a new way that most coastal areas need to start thinking.

Re:90 years in the future... (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791184)

No current structure need last 90 years for other than sentimental reasons because their design will be obsolete. Urban renewal require infrastructure replacement, and 90 years is plenty of time.

Selling the lie (-1, Troll)

Eukariote (881204) | more than 4 years ago | (#30790908)

Ah yes, another attempt to sell the big lie [telegraph.co.uk] that CO2-induced global warming is causing sea levels to rise.

Re:Selling the lie (1)

GiveBenADollar (1722738) | more than 4 years ago | (#30790994)

Not necessarily. Rise in sea level can also be caused by a sinking landmass. Yes this isn't a global rise in sea level, but I don't think a person living in it cares about the distinction.

Re:Selling the lie (1)

jvillain (546827) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791026)

You mean like how it was killing the coral reefs but then it wasn't, and it was warming the top of Kilimanjaro but then it wasn't, like it had caused the glaciers in the Himalayas to retreat massively but then they weren't, like ....

Re:Selling the lie (0)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791068)

It's a fact jack. Sea levels are due to rise several inches over the next few decades. The average rise for the last 100 years has been 1.8mm per year. Get ready for waterworld.

Well, telling them doesn't work (4, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 4 years ago | (#30790920)

A lot of houses in Britain have been built on flood plains.

Even though they are clearly marked on the maps, and (presumably) are discovered in property searches, people still buy these places. Yet when the inevitable happens - for rain is a fact of life in England, they whine and moan about "our house has flooded ... you gotta HELP us!" Better still, a lot of river-side properties are very desirable and attract huge premiums. The buyers seem not to associate having a large body of moving water, passing by the bottom of the gardens to their million-pound houses, with any sort of risk, at all.

All I would suggest is huge .... massive .... crippling ... increases in home insurance premiums to both alert buyers to the dangers and also to make them pay the going rate for repairs and renovations - rather than being subsidised by all the sensible people. Just like happens with car insurance.

Re:Well, telling them doesn't work (1)

thewils (463314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791002)

This must be universal because the same thing happens annually in Canada. How difficult can it be to protect yourself from flooding? Page one of my brief manual reads "Don't buy a house that was built _in_ a fricken river, or _on_ the beach in the first place."

Re:Well, telling them doesn't work (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30791274)

In summer, the river's at the bottom of the garden; in winter the garden's at the bottom of the river...

Re:Well, telling them doesn't work (1)

thewils (463314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791440)

Actually, it's not just in winter. I've seen a one-foot wide trickle go to a twenty-foot wide raging torrent after a summer thunderstorm.

Re:Well, telling them doesn't work (2, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791768)

Thats exactly it as far as I am concerned.

I dont want to foot the bill for people in flood regions when the river misbehaves, just like I don't want to foot the bill for people on the coast when the ocean misbehaves.

Next up: People living next to an active volcano situated on a fault line on a river basin that is somehow under sea level on a hill where mudslides are common, want help.

They're preparing for defeat? (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 4 years ago | (#30790942)

They think it'll prove politically impossible to change course and stop the rise in sea level?

What are their plans for handling starving refugees? Or, merely feeding themselves? Living with tropical diseases? I think a little more thought on the disruptions would encourage a redoubling of efforts to stop the warming. It is not yet too late for that.

This kind of planning smacks of Cold War futility and madness, when quite a few nuclear bomb shelters were built and plans made to retreat to mine shafts with the pitiful surviving remnants of humanity (but, hey, ten hot women for every man!) knowing that if they ever had to be used for their ostensive purpose, humanity was already screwed. Well, interstate loops around large cities were meant to encourage development that might help contain a nuclear blast, maybe the same idea can help hold back the water!

Re:They're preparing for defeat? (0)

bunratty (545641) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791322)

We're continuing to increase the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. That's predicted to cause a few degrees of warming, which is in turn predicted to increase sea level by a meter or more. It is technologically impossible to stop any further rise in sea level, according to the vast majority of climatologists.

Re:They're preparing for defeat? (2, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791546)

Moving cities isn't "defeat". Let's remember that coastal cities are where they are because that's where the "coast" is, and when the coastline changes construction can adapt to that.

"What are their plans for handling starving refugees? Or, merely feeding themselves? Living with tropical diseases? I think a little more thought on the disruptions would encourage a redoubling of efforts to stop the warming. It is not yet too late for that."

Why should there be any such problems from a _gradual_ rise in sea levels?

Not pork (1, Interesting)

Rob Kaper (5960) | more than 4 years ago | (#30790946)

Whomever labeled this "pork" should think of New Orleans and reconsider. Protecting vulnerable coastal areas with levees and such is a valuable investment in human life.

Re:Not pork (3, Insightful)

tomhath (637240) | more than 4 years ago | (#30790988)

The US Eastern Seaboard has major problems with beach erosion. The real problem is that sand beaches have never been static; they erode, move, and build up in different spots depending on vagaries of currents and storms.

Of course idiots still want beachfront property as close to the ocean as they can get, so the obvious solution is to have Congress subsidize rebuilding the beaches and paying for flood insurance [spislandbreeze.com] . If the government would just get out and let the property owners bear the real cost the problem would solve itself.

New Orleans? I'm not convinced it's all that special. Move it inland about 50 miles and the problem goes away

Re:Not pork (2, Insightful)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791280)

The sad fact is that New Orleans is totally unnecessary. There is a large city on the other side of the lake and there used to be a bridge across to it (probably rebuilt already). New Orleans is simply a ghetto for the poor and should be shut down, not rebuilt - rebuilding it is a waste of time and money.

Things Change? (1, Funny)

Das Auge (597142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791522)

Did you just say that things change naturally? That's crazy talk! It's a fact that nothing on this planet ever changes unless it's caused by mankind!

Ever!

Harvey Cedars Beach Replenishment project (1)

Guppy (12314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791666)

Of course idiots still want beachfront property as close to the ocean as they can get, so the obvious solution is to have Congress subsidize rebuilding the beaches and paying for flood insurance.

They want to be close to the water and have a great view. In Harvey Cedars, NJ, there was a beach replenishment project that resulted in an interesting twist -- a couple who were unhappy that beachfront replenishment was going to ruin their house's first-floor view of the ocean sued (and won) $480,000.

Re:Not pork (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791678)

I agree completely on both counts. Coastlines simply are not static, and as time passes the money to preserve any strip of coastline, regardless of whether its rocky, sandy, cliffs, whatever, is simply going to increase. It's one thing to dredge out ports, where at least you can make an economic argument for the resources and cash required, but for beach front property?

As to government flood insurance, it encourages insane behavior. I'm in British Columbia, and here, ever six or seven years, the Fraser River floods. It's pretty predictable, too. People watch as big chunks of their property fall into the river. They work like devils with sandbags. Eventually after a few floodings, the house itself is at risk, or outright destroyed. Of course, insurance companies won't even mention the words "flood insurance", but the government pledges when their houses float away or end up with a foot of of alluvial on the bottomfloor, to help the people rebuild, opening up the coffers and tossing money around. (The same thing is happening North Vancouver where they even more brilliantly built on the tops of cliffs in a climate zone that is usually described as "temperate rainforest", or, in other words, it rains ALOT, so guess what happens to those cliffs).

There's lots of blame to go around. First, cities should not be allowing development in places that even your average Joe can see is plainly an area vulnerable to serious and potentially very fast erosion events. Secondly, governments at higher levels should not be encouraging this by basically blanket underwriting properties built in such areas. Third, people should grow a brain. If its by a river, ocean or on top of a cliff, eventually, one way or the other, nature is going to try to make your house go away.

The problem for a lot of cities, of course, is that they're basically in a property pyramid scheme. The only way to pay for present expenditures is to keep developing, and these developments end up costing money, so they need to continue developing. Not only are cities building in absurd places, but in some areas they're actually burying prime agricultural land under concrete and asphalt, they're draining swamps (which, of course, exacerbates flooding), concreting and culverting in streams and creeks, reducing the land's capacity to deal with flooding. If you say "maybe you shouldn't drain that swamp and redirect those creeks through culverts, then you're labeled a greeny by greedy developers and large property owners all looking to make a quick buck. The fact that, twenty years down the road, what they've done will ultimately cost taxpayers a lot of money and people who may not even be aware of the serious geological and ecological changes done by such development their houses.

Re:Not pork (2, Insightful)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791050)

New Orleans happened in a large part because of human intervention. Levees and canals magnified the impact of Katrina enormously.

And there is the basic lesson, don't build your city below sea level next to the ocean.

Re:Not pork (2, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791300)

You forgot a few, below sea level, next to an ocean, between a river draining half the continent and a lake 30+ miles wide, and in a swamp.

New Orleans would be a lot safer if the USACE hadn't taken on the herculean effort of keeping the Mississippi river running through the city. Rivers naturally change course, and the Mississippi was in the process of shifting westward (IIRC it would have been headed close to due south from from Baton Rouge) before it was "tamed" through massive geological engineering. Without the weight of the Mississippi, the land in the area could well rebound and risen to or even above sea level again.

Re:Not pork (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791652)

"And there is the basic lesson, don't build your city below sea level next to the ocean."

Tell that to the slum dwellers who want their slum replaced where they were.

New Orleans was basically a giant ghetto with the French Quarter as tourist bait. Too bad more of it didn't get destroyed sufficient to prohibit rebuilding. There was nothing of value there.

Re:Not pork (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30791142)

Yes, because we should all live next to the ocean, on sand, at the mouth of a frequently flooding river, in hurricane alley.

OR people could take responsibility for making HORRIBLE decisions about where to build a house.

Re:Not pork (2, Insightful)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791638)

"Protecting vulnerable coastal areas with levees and such is a valuable investment in human life."

You don't need a levee if you don't build in an area that require a levee. The US is vast, no one requires to live below sea level or in areas inevitably subject to storm surge.

The intelligent and ethical way to protect people from the consequences of living below sea level or in other extremely vulnerable areas where no one would build a city now is to prohibit them from doing it.

Let's remember that NOLA is a consequence of terrible choices about where to build. There is a vast amount of room available in the US, but people relentlessly insisted on building in low areas that were vulnerable. Now they relentlessly crave to return there for nothing more than emotional reasons. The rest of us shouldn't have to pay for their utterly indefensible choice.

Re:Not pork (1)

Rob Kaper (5960) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791874)

You don't need a levee if you don't build in an area that require a levee. The US is vast, no one requires to live below sea level or in areas inevitably subject to storm surge.

New Orleans was just an example, we can't compress the entire world population to only live in the most habitable areas. You'd still need settlements in the less habitable ones due to available natural resources and (naval) trade routes. There are cases where the benefits outweigh the costs, especially when you consider we also need vast amounts of land for crops.

(Living in the Netherlands, I might be biased, but in many cases managing risks will be more feasible economically and logistically than simply avoiding them.)

Nice to get some bargain beachfront property (1, Funny)

slashbart (316113) | more than 4 years ago | (#30790980)

If people actually start taking this nonsense seriously, it might be that we get some serious drop in beachfront property prices. Great to live within walking distance of the sea.

Global Warming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30790986)

Shouldn't global warming make the sea retreat?

Under (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30790990)

London the first underwater capital!

On the other hand (1, Insightful)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791012)

It might be wiser for the UK to invest in more snowplows and salt.

Solution (1)

dimethylxanthine (946092) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791124)

Prevention.

Re:Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30791170)

... or planning. Such as; Why do you live in shacks and huts when you live on an island that is prone to earthquakes? The Japanese learned why can't others.

Finally... (2, Funny)

M-RES (653754) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791424)

We can rid ourselves of the stain on the face of England that is London! I'm all for it.

Re:Finally... (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791696)

Pat Robertson would agree with you. Perhaps England, along with Haiti, made a deal with the devil and deserves the horrible deaths of women and children that such a deal brings. I am sure that according to Robertson, such a deal would be factual. After all, I believe it was King Henry VIII that left the church for a divorce. This would be enough to annihilate a country in anyone's book.

Nuclear power station highest priority (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 4 years ago | (#30791466)

The things we build with the longest planning horizon are nuclear power stations. They need that horizon because decommissioning can take such a long time. This makes nuclear power stations the projects most affected by sea level rise of all our current undertakings when sited in tidal regions. In the UK most stations are by the sea owing to lack of suitable rivers to provide cooling. Many current sites appear to have serious geological problems in the face of sea level rise detailed in this report: http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/media/reports/the-impacts-of-climate-change-on-nuclear-power-station-sites [greenpeace.org.uk] At least the UK is looking at this issue. In the US, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission refuses to consider the problem at all yet the US has many more inland sites than the UK and could simply defer consideration of licenses in tidal areas until sea level rise is better understood.

This is a Darwin test people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30791558)

If you happen to live in these flood prone locations there are two choices:
a) Fix the entire world to stop rising waters ---- not likely.
b) MOVE to higher ground.

How long can you tread water? Perhaps you should ask the people of New Orleans?

Seriously. This is a Darwin test. Fail if you must, the human race will be better off.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...