Archive for » February, 2011 «

Friday, February 25th, 2011 | Author:

Since we’ve been talking about the impacts of global warming and climate change in class this past week, today I’ve decided to address the global warming induced rising sea level problem. Dr. S mentioned that sea level will rise almost twice as fast along the U.S. Northeastern coastline compared to global sea levels. This is pretty disheartening news considering me and millions of Americans could experience these effects sooner rather than later. This site lists the Top 10 U.S. cities most vulnerable to rising sea level. Seven out of the ten cities are along the East coast, and Virginia Beach is #5!

Now, this may just have been me, but (ignorantly) I always figured that sea level rise due to global warming was caused by the melting of glaciers and ice caps. However, in class I learned that the main contributors to rising sea level are sea ice melting in Antarctica, and the fact that as the ocean warms, the water expands. Therefore, as the earth continues to warm, the ocean continues to rise…and since no one is sure how much the earth will warm, no one can say for sure how little or how much the ocean will rise.

This interactive map allows you to zoom in on any coastline on the Earth and see (depending on sea level rise..you can choose between 0-14m) what areas/cities will be “washed away”.

Sea Level Rise Impacts on Florida and Miami

According to the above video, our generation is going to have to find a new state to retire in! Just kidding….maybe. Florida, recognized as being very vulnerable to sea level rise, has numerous famous and historical cities that would be devastated by the effects of sea level rise. These cities include (but are not limited to) historical St. Augustine, FL (the oldest city in the U.S.), Miami, Jacksonville, Daytona Beach, and Tampa. Billions upon billions of dollars would be lost, along with millions of homes, businesses, and lives if we continue to allow global warming to warm the ocean.

Therefore (as repeated ad nauseam) as part of the global community we all need to embrace a lifestyle that includes using renewable energy, having an efficient car, etc. It will take each individual, each community, each city, and each nation if we want to stop global warming and rising sea level in it’s tracks.

Otherwise, make sure you sign your posterity up for swim lessons. 😉

-Kristen Callahan

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Thursday, February 17th, 2011 | Author:

In class, we discussed a number of proposed solutions (by the UN and World Bank) to help stabilize the Aral Sea region.

These included: moving the region away from agriculture, moving the region into oil and gas drilling, improving canals, charging for water use, using genetically engineered crops, and piping in water from the Caspian Sea/redirecting other rivers into the Aral Sea.

Possibly the most logical solution would be to pipe in water from the Caspian Sea and other rivers. However, this would just bring about ecological disaster to the Caspian Sea and other effected ecosystems. Next, moving the region away from agriculture, seems like it would solve all the problems…the redirected rivers could then flow back into the Aral Sea, right? True…but what about all those farmers? It would take many many years to stop all the farming in the region, and the citizens would lose their jobs. Economic devastation could hit the region during the lull between farming and possibly working in fisheries again. Another solution, charging for water use, will only harm the people living in the Aral Sea region. People have already suffered great economic loss after the Aral Sea receded, and it is doubtful that many could afford to buy the amount of water they would need for themselves, their families, and their crops. Now, moving the region towards oil and gas drilling would probably benefit the U.S. the most (since we’re still addicted to oil), however that will again have disastrous results. Oil and gas drilling would ruin the ecosystem and only cause more problems. The last two solutions, using genetically engineered crops, and improving canals, seem like the best two solutions to me. I know there are many debates about genetically engineered crops (of which I admittedly know little about), but it seems like a plausible solution, at least compared to the other ones. In addition, improving canals and water efficiency would be a beneficial thing to do that way the region would not waste anymore water. However, I’m not sure how much of an impact just improving canals would have on the Aral Sea region.

Whether or not it is clear which solution will work the best, if any, it is indeed clear that the people and animals in the Aral Sea region need help, and need it now.

-Kristen Callahan

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Friday, February 04th, 2011 | Author:

Well, in the case between Haiti v. the Dominican Republic, yes it is.

Before reading about this case study, I didn’t know much about Haiti or the DR, except that a) they were on the same island, b) Haiti was extremely poor, and c) the DR attracted some vacationers.

However, now I know that some of the factors contributing to the downfall of Haiti v. the “success” of the Dominican Republic are deforestation, response to environmental problems, and attitude towards neighbors.

After reading the Diamond chapter and listening to Dr. S, I began to like the Dominican Republic more and more and Haiti less and less. (Not that I don’t have pity for Haitians, I just have more respect for the Dominican Republic for attempting to save their environment.)

After reading about the former Dominican Republic President Joaquin Balaguer, I began to understand that leadership really makes all the difference when it comes to the environment. Here in the U.S. we’ve had the good fortune to have had many presidents that understand the importance of conserving the environment (such as Jimmy Carter, FDR, and Teddy Roosevelt). In the Dominican Republic, Joaquin Balaguer (while adopting controversial violent tactics)  knew the importance of environmental conservation, and took dramatic steps to ensure that their country had a relatively healthy habitat. Haiti on the other hand, has never had a political leader that truly cared about saving their environment…Which is why only 1% of their country is covered by forests, compared to the Dominican Republics’ 28%.

I believe that if Haitians wish to improve their country, they need to start with improving their environment. They need to learn from their neighbors (namely, the Dominian Republic…even if they do have a rocky relationship). Lastly, they need to elect a leader who understands that if they want the grass to be greener in Haiti, they need to stop decimating their environment.

-Kristen Callahan

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