Friday, November 8, 2019
BIG unveils Oceanix City concept for floating villages that can withstand hurricanes: Architecture firm BIG(bjarke ingels group) has designed a concept for a floating city of 10,000 people that could help populations threatened by extreme weather events and rising sea levels.
The concept consists of buoyant islands clustered together in groups of six to form villages.
These clusters would then be repeated in multiples of six to form a 12-hectare village for 1,650 residents, and then again to form an archipelago home to 10,000 citizens.
The project addresses housing shortages and threats from rising sea levels by imagining an environmentally friendly habitat. renderings show a series of islands populated by mid-rise structures built using sustainable materials.
Each of the modules would be built on land and then towed to sea, where they would be anchored in place. It has the facilities to produce its own power, fresh water, and heat.
Food production and farming would be integrated and follow a zero-waste policy. furthermore, ‘oceanix city’ is designed to grow, transform and adapt organically over time, evolving from neighborhoods to cities with the possibility of scaling indefinitely. adding an extra element of safety, all structures would be designed to withstand floods, tsunamis, and category 5 hurricanes.
In the overall plan, IT will use "locally sourced" materials such as wood and bamboo for the construction of the houses.
Oceanix City is intended to be developed in sub-tropical and tropical areas that are most at risk of flooding first, but could soon offer a more attractive living environment.
Officials revealed that the team will move forward with producing a prototype of the scheme, with ambitions to launch it on New York's East River.
Oceanix/Big-Bjarke Ingels Group
From Forbes by Wade Shepard
“Coastal cities are literally the interface between man and nature.
That is where it is happening,” spoke Marc Collins, the former tourism minister of French Polynesia and founder of Oceanix as we sat together in Bryant Park beneath the towers of Manhattan.
Collins has a crazy dream: to build floating cities all over the world.
I listen to him not just because I enjoy wild ideas and quixotic endeavors, but mostly because I know that he is probably right: for communities facing rising sea levels and municipalities looking to cash in on creating new coastal property, the sea is the final frontier.
Humans have always been drawn to the coast to build our cities, but today this draw has increased to epidemic proportions, as two to three million people globally migrate to cities each week, with coastal cities now containing over 50% of the world’s population.
According to UN Habitat, by 2035 90% of all megacities — cities with over ten million people — will be on coastlines.
This is where the high property values are, this is where the bulk of economic opportunities are, and across Asia governments have been going gaga over further developing their coastlines — even going as far as artificially creating massive amounts of new waterfront property via land reclamation.
Meanwhile, sea levels are rising at an ever-accelerating clip, and many coastal cities — even entire island civilizations — are in danger of being washed away within the next century.
We have never before had as much data to demonstrate an unnatural increase in the rate of sea level rise as we do now.
According to a 2018 study published in PNAS, sea levels have been rising at a .118” per year clip since 1993 and NASA data shows that this rate is accelerating, conservatively predicting a 26” rise by 2100.
This spells havoc for the 600+ million people who live in low-lying coastal areas around the world.
The bill for rising sea levels is already being served.
Louisiana has set aside $25 billion for a new coastal master plan, Texas has invested $11.6 billion in a storm surge protection system, and New York City devised a $3.7 billion coastal defense plan in addition to a $10 billion proposal to artificially expand the surface area of Manhattan to hold off the encroaching sea.
Altogether, it has been estimated that it’s going to cost the USA alone around $400 billion over the next two decades in sea level rise damage control.
Globally, Indonesia has already announced a $34 billion plan to move its sinking, flood-prone 30-million-person capital to higher ground, the South Pacific is estimated to need to spend $775 million annually (2.5% of GDP) to fight against sea level rise, and Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines are expected to shell out 6.7% of their collective GDP by 2100 in coastal flooding prevention plans.
Meanwhile, the UK National Oceanographic Centre (NOC) discovered that the global cost of the damage caused by rising sea levels could be in the ballpark of $14 trillion annually before this century is out.
“If we don't reverse climate change we're going to pay the cost of adapting to it,” exclaimed Dr.
Tom Goreau, the president of the Global Coral Reef Alliance.
“There are billions of people living on coastlines that are going to be flooded.
It’s going to be worse and worse and worse year by year and they are going to have to move eventually, and where are they going to move to? Either we're going to have to deal with that on a large scale or we're going to have to move out into the ocean.”
Professor Goreau was not speaking in jest.
As evidenced by a high-level UN Habitat roundtable event that occurred earlier this year in New York City — which featured a Nobel-prize winning economist, CEOs of major tech firms and oil companies, university professors, climate change thought leaders, and even a movie star — the idea of human settlements being created on the ocean has transitioned from science fiction to present day reality.
Waterworld is here, and floating cities are being seriously proposed as a way forward in an age of climatic vertigo.
Render of the Oceanix City concept.
Oceanix/Big-Bjarke Ingels Group
What are floating cities?
Floating cities lose a little clarity in their nomenclature.
When we talk about floating cities we’re generally not really talking about entire cities floating around on the open ocean, but a series of interconnected platforms that are moored to the seabed a short distance out from shore.
Such floating settlements are not a new concept, as people all over the world have been building and living in them for thousands of years.
From the 13,000-person settlement of interconnected platform houses at Kampong Ayer in Brunei to the boardwalk-linked floating fishing villages around Jakarta; from the stilt homes of Iquitos, Peru, that rise above the Itaya River to the floating slum of Makoku in Nairobi to waterborne settlements in Cambodia and Vietnam, when the land in highly-sought coastal areas is occupied people have always built out into the sea.
In more technical societies, the idea of floating cities has been floating around since the mid-20th century.
In 1967 Buckminster Fuller was commissioned by a wealthy Japanese businessman to build a floating city in Tokyo Bay.
Calling it Triton City, Fuller produced a model in collaboration with the MIT Center for Ocean Engineering that was essentially a ten-story tall tetrahedron built on a platform that was to be anchored to the sea floor.
The engineering was apparently sound, and the model demonstrated that the floating city was, in fact, feasible.
However, the project never came to fruition — the Japanese businessman passed away before it could be built and the project died with him.
However, the administration of Baltimore caught wind of the idea and invited Fuller and his team to resurrect the project and build a 100,000-person version of Triton City in the bay outside their city, but an inopportune election loss booted the project’s primary backers out of office.
In the end, Triton City ended up being a wild dream best represented by a scale model that Lyndon B.
Johnson nicked from the White House and put on display at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas, where you can visit it today.
In more recent times, floating cities haven’t been any less idealistic.
The Seasteading Institute was formed in 2008 by former Google software engineer Patri Friedman — the famed economist Milton Friedman’s grandson — and the controversial Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel, who seeded the project with a $1.7 million investment.
Their goal was to create floating cities outside the realm of government control as a way of cultivating independent libertarian utopias.
Thiel described the project as offering an “escape from politics in all its forms” and attracted a following of passionate idealists, zealots, and wing nuts, who would come to indelibly brand the concept of the floating city in their image.
“Part of the problem [with floating cities] is that a lot of it has been focused with people who have their own agendas,” Goreau explained.
“They want to be the kings or the princes or they want to have pirate radio stations or they want to have tax shelter schemes.
So it's been discredited by people who had dishonorable motives.”
In popular culture, floating cities pop up in the works of writers like Aldus Huxley and Francis Bacon, and, of course, there’s the 1995 movie Waterworld, which stared Kevin Costner as an over-evolved, gill-equipped, web-toed fish-man living in a dystopian world where sea levels rose above land, forcing humanity to gather on massive oil rigs controlled by post-apocalyptically-attired gangs.
I asked Peter Rader, the co-writer of Waterworld, what he thought about the fact that floating cities — his sci-fi vision from the 20th century — could become a reality in the 21st.
“We are futurists when we write sci-fi,” he began.
“When we create in Hollywood, the visions of the future tend to be a little more dystopian.
When you go to a movie you're paying your $15 ticket for a 90-minute experience, so it can be bleak and dark, and then you're out of there, you're back to your ordinary life.
But we don't want that dark, bleak version of the future, where it's like a rusting, subsistence existence.”
Perhaps ironically, it’s floating cities that are driving humanity to counteract that bleak and rusting cinema-induced vision of the future.
Solutions or half-measures?
Nearly all coastal cities are currently facing issues with rising sea levels and flooding, and many have devised strategies to curb the impact and buy themselves a little time.
Some cities have proposed multi-billion dollar plans to erect massive seawalls around their coastlines, others have proposed artificially raising the land, while still others have begun charting out plans for a managed retreat.
Ultimately, all of these solutions are primitive, outrageously expensive, and half-measures at best.
“If you talk to anybody who knows about marine walls, they say there’s two types of walls: the walls that have fallen into the ocean and the ones that are going to fall into the ocean,” Collins explained.
As far as managed retreat goes — i.e. throwing in the towel and moving affected populations to higher ground — we only need to look at Indonesia to see how real of a solution this has become.
In April, the country announced that it plans to move its capital to Borneo, citing the chronic flooding of Jakarta due to groundwater extraction and rising sea levels as the reason.
A third of the 118 islands of French Polynesia may soon endure a similar fate, as somewhere between 2040 and 2060 they are slated to be submerged.
“What do we do when an entire people spread out through the Pacific — and maybe around the world — no longer have a land to call their own?” Collins questioned.
“This is not a small thing.”
Finding all three of these potential band-aids for rising sea levels inadequate, Collins, an entrepreneur who has started over 20 companies, began looking into other solutions.
He wondered if people could simply build and live on portable infrastructure that could be built over the sea and rise with sea levels?
The models for Fuller’s Triton City and the experiences of indigenous people all over the tropics told him that it was possible, so he reached out to the Seasteading Institute in 2016 and invited them to French Polynesia.
The project was dubbed Blue Frontiers, and was to be a floating special economic zone that would have different tax, customs, immigration, and labor regimes than the rest of the country, and would be funded by the sale of its own cryptocurrency.
In other words, it was to be the quintessential libertarian utopia — where people with big money and even bigger ideas could come and, as they put it, live free.
While Blue Frontiers did sign an MoU with the Frech Polynesian government in 2017, the floating special economic zone was never to be.
Like in Baltimore a half-century before, the government backed out at the eleventh hour.
Oceanix/Big-Bjarke Ingels Group
From the ashes of Blue Frontiers, Collins started Oceanix in partnership with the architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group, a company that would design floating cities that could be deployed in varying contexts around the world.
Collins hired a team researchers at MIT who were actually the students of the professors who worked on Fuller’s Triton City, and began hashing out plans for what they called Oceanix City.
Oceanix City would essentially be a 10,000-person settlement made up of an array of platforms that would be prefabricated in a factory, towed out to sea, pieced together like Legos, and attached to the seabed with bio-rock — a sort of quasi-living building material that would essentially turn the entire city into an artificial reef.
The main building material for structures would be laminated bamboo beams, which could be grown on floating outposts.
Water would be derived from desalinating seawater and harvesting the humidity in the air.
Food would be grown on-site, and all residents would be encouraged to eat a plant-based diet.
The fundamental design principle of Oceanix City revolves around the idea of bio-mimicry, “where you look at nature and go, how does nature figure this stuff out?” as Collins put it.
Like the traditional homes of French Polynesia, nothing about the place is designed to be fixed or permanent — all materials can be easily replaced and recycled, and, if the decision is made to move the city, it could, theoretically, be taken apart and towed away to another location.
Collins contrasted what he planned to do with the skyscrapers that surrounded us.
“You look at any of these buildings behind me; the effort, the energy, and the materials, the costs, the carbon ... that took a long time to put together, and the idea is that it will be here forever.
We now realize that nature is encroaching. It's coming back. It's taking over.”
50 years ago floating cities would have seemed as ridiculous as the movie Waterworld.
Oceanix City should probably be relegated to the back pages of science fiction, and it should come as a blow to the collective human ego why dreamers such as Marc Collins are now being taken seriously.
We are clearly entering new times, where 30-million-person capitals are being moved to higher ground, where cities are earmarking tens of billions of dollars to wall themselves off from the sea, and entire island civilizations are going to have to, almost literally, sink or swim.
“Floating cities are a worse case scenario,” Goreau admitted.
“I prefer that we solve the fundamental problems and reverse global climate change, but that means sucking the CO2 out of the atmosphere and going back to pre-industrial levels.
But governments are not there.
If our politicians don't get smart and don't start solving our long-term problems then we don't have a choice but to start getting floating cities.”
- Engineering News : ASCE Unveils 'Future World' Concept of a Floating City / UN Brings Back Controversial Floating City Concept
- Business Insider : A floating plastic island in the San Francisco Bay may offer a ... / Floating cities are getting far closer to reality than ever before ... / The UN is supporting a design for a new floating city that can ...
- Fast Company : Floating cities once seemed like sci-fi. Now the UN is getting ...
- ABC News : The 'blue economy' is changing how we see the ocean. But ..
- The Conversation : Floating cities: the future or a washed-up idea?
- BBC : Floating cities - fantasy or the future?
- Eco Business : Future or fantasy: Are floating cities the next stage of ...
- CityLab : Floating Cities Aren't the Answer to Climate Change
- The Inertia : Could Floating Cities Help People Adapt to Rising Sea Levels?
- The Independant : Plans for sustainable floating cities discussed at UN
- GeoGarage blog : Floating cities, no longer science fiction ... / Has the time come for floating cities? / Freedom Ship concept : How floating cities ... / Ocean living: A step closer to reality? / 'I rule my own ocean micronation' / Living under sea: Japanese visionaries ... / The Dutch have solutions to rising seas. The ...
Thursday, November 7, 2019
October was the warmest such month on record according to new data
From BBC by Matt McGrath
A global group of around 11,000 scientists have endorsed research that says the world is facing a climate emergency.
The study, based on 40 years of data on a range of measures, says governments are failing to address the crisis.
Without deep and lasting changes, the world is facing "untold human suffering" the study says.
The researchers say they have a moral obligation to warn of the scale of the threat.
Released on the day that satellite data shows that last month was the warmest October on record, the new study says that simply measuring global surface temperatures is an inadequate way of capturing the real dangers of an overheating world.
So the authors include a range of data which they believe represents a "suite of graphical vital signs of climate change over the past 40 years".
These indicators include the growth of human and animal populations, per capita meat production, global tree cover loss, as well as fossil fuel consumption.
Some progress has been seen in some areas.
For example, renewable energy has grown significantly, with consumption of wind and solar increasing 373% per decade - but it was still 28 times smaller than fossil fuel use in 2018.
Taken together, the researchers say most of their vital signs indicators are going in the wrong direction and add up to a climate emergency.
"An emergency means that if we do not act or respond to the impacts of climate change by reducing our carbon emissions, reducing our livestock production, reducing our land clearing and fossil fuel consumption, the impacts will likely be more severe than we've experienced to date," said lead author Dr Thomas Newsome, from the University of Sydney.
"That could mean there are areas on Earth that are not inhabitable by people."
How does this differ from other reports on climate change?
The study echoes many of the warnings that have been reported by scientists including the IPCC.
The authors set out to present a clear and simple graphical picture of a broader ranger of indicators that can drive home to the public and to governments that the threat is serious while the response has been poor.
Where it differs is in showing that while things might be bad, they are not hopeless.
The researchers show six areas in which immediate steps should be taken that could make a major difference.
- Energy: Politicians should impose carbon fees high enough to discourage the use of fossil fuels, they should end subsidies to fossil fuel companies and implement massive conservation practices while also replacing oil and gas with renewables.
- Short-lived pollutants: These include methane, hydrofluorocarbons and soot - the researchers say that limiting these has the potential to cut the short-term warming trend by 50% over the next few decades.
- Nature: Stop land clearing, restore forests, grasslands and mangroves which would all help to sequester CO2.
- Food: A big dietary shift is needed say researchers so that people eat mostly plants and consumer fewer animal products. Reducing food waste is also seen as critical.
- Economy: Convert the economy's reliance on carbon fuels - and change away from growing the world's gross domestic product and pursuing affluence.
- Population: The world needs to stabilise the global population which is growing by around 200,000 a day.
Some 11,000 researchers of all types and varieties from 153 countries have endorsed the research
The authors say they didn't target individuals so there is a marked lack of some of the bigger names in climate change research.
All the details of who's signed the endorsement have been published online.
"We have rising emissions, rising temperatures, and we've known this for 40 years and we haven't acted - you don't need to be a rocket scientist to know we have a a problem," said Dr Newsome.
What do the authors want to happen now?
The researchers are fed up because multiple climate conferences and assemblies have failed to produce meaningful action.
However they believe that the growing, global protest movement offers hope.
"We are encouraged by a recent global surge of concern - governments adopting new policies; schoolchildren striking; lawsuits proceeding; and grassroots citizen movements demanding change.
"As scientists, we urge widespread use of the vital signs and hope the graphical indicators will better allow policymakers and the public to understand the magnitude of the crisis, realign priorities and track progress."
So what about human population growth?
The idea of trying to influence human population growth is highly controversial and has been deemed too hot to handle by UN negotiators.
The authors say that looking the other way is no longer an option.
"It is certainly a controversial topic - but I think that population should be talked about when considering human impacts on the Earth," said Dr Newsome.
"It's important when presenting these results to look at some positives, and one of the more positive things that we've pulled out of this data is that there is now a slight decline in birth rates at a global level."
- The Conversation : Scientists looked at sea levels 125,000 years in the past. The results are terrifying
- Phys : Antarctica likely to drive rapid sea-level rise under climate ...
- NYTimes : What's the Price of Ignoring Climate Change? / Our Wine Critic Reviews Climate Change's Impact on an ...
- CNN : 11000 scientists warn of 'untold suffering' caused by climate ...
- The Guardian : Climate crisis: 11000 scientists warn of 'untold suffering'
- Scientific American : A Scary Year for Climate Change
- FT : There is one way forward on climate change
- Bloomberg : Americans Start Adapting to Climate Change. They're Doing It ...
- Forbes : The Impact Of Flooding Depends More On Societal Change ...
- MIT : Critics blast a proposal to curb climate change by halting ...
- Wired : Companies Expect Climate Change to Cost Them $1 Trillion in 5 Years
Wednesday, November 6, 2019
Fishing nets can continue killing for decades, entangling or suffocating marine life, Greenpeace says. Photograph: Sea Shepherd
From The Guardian by Sandra Laville
Greenpeace calls for global action over nets, lines and traps that are deadly for marine life
Lost and abandoned fishing gear which is deadly to marine life makes up the majority of large plastic pollution in the oceans, according to a report by Greenpeace.
More than 640,000 tonnes of nets, lines, pots and traps used in commercial fishing are dumped and discarded in the sea every year, the same weight as 55,000 double-decker buses.
The report, which draws on the most up-to-date research on “ghost gear” polluting the oceans, calls for international action to stop the plastic pollution, which is deadly for marine wildlife.
About 300 sea turtles were found dead as a result of entanglement in ghost gear off the coast of Oaxaca, Mexico, last year.
And in October, a pregnant whale was found entangled in ghost gear off the Orkney coast.
The fishing gear was jammed in the animal’s baleen, the filter-feeder system inside its mouth, and scientists said the net would have hugely impaired the minke whale’s feeding and movement.
Louisa Casson, an oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “Ghost gear is a major source of ocean plastic pollution and it affects marine life in the UK as much as anywhere else.
“The UK’s waters do not exist in a vacuum as oceans have no borders.
The world’s governments must take action to protect our global oceans, and hold the under-regulated fishing industry to account for its dangerous waste.
This should start with a strong global ocean treaty being agreed at the United Nations next year.”
The report said abandoned fishing gear was particularly deadly.
“Nets and lines can pose a threat to wildlife for years or decades, ensnaring everything from small fish and crustaceans to endangered turtles, seabirds and even whales,” it said.
“Spreading throughout the ocean on tides and currents, lost and discarded fishing gear is now drifting to Arctic coastlines, washing up on remote Pacific islands, entangled on coral reefs and littering the deep seafloor.”
More than 300 endangered sea turtles were killed in a signle incident last year after swimming into a what was believed to be a discarded fishing net in Southern Mexico
Ghost gear is estimated to make up 10% of ocean plastic pollution but forms the majority of large plastic littering the waters.
One study found that as much as 70% (by weight) of macroplastics (in excess of 20cm) found floating on the surface of the ocean was fishing related.
A recent study of the “great Pacific garbage patch”, an area of plastic accumulation in the north Pacific, estimated that it contained 42,000 tonnes of megaplastics, of which 86% was fishing nets.
Another expedition to the south Pacific found an estimated 18 tonnes of plastic debris on a 2.5km stretch of beach on the uninhabited Henderson Island and it was reportedly accumulating at a rate of several thousand pieces per day.
In a collection of 6 tonnes of garbage, an estimated 60% originated from industrial fisheries.
Greenpeace said ghost gear was particularly prevalent from illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, but overcrowded fisheries also contributed to the problem.
“Poor regulation and slow political progress in creating ocean sanctuaries that are off-limits to industrial fishing allow this problem to exist and persist,” the report said.
Greenpeace is calling for the UN treaty to provide a comprehensive framework for marine protection, paving the way for a global network of ocean sanctuaries covering 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030.
Tuesday, November 5, 2019
(a) An environmental monitoring satellite is launched into a polar orbit.
(b) Research vessels, buoys, and transport ships all routinely collect measurements for monitoring ocean atmosphere–ocean gas exchange, but some oceans are not well sampled and much of the data collection is voluntary.
(c) A coral reef viewed from space; these sensitive ecosystems can be negatively impacted by episodic ocean acidification events caused by upwelling (Feely et al. 2008).
(d) Calcifying organisms that use carbonate to build their shells, including commercially important lobsters, can be negatively affected by ocean acidification (McLean et al. 2018).From Exeter University
Satellites now play a key role in monitoring carbon levels in the oceans, but we are only just beginning to understand their full potential.
Our ability to predict future climate relies upon being able to monitor where our carbon emissions go.
So we need to know how much stays in the atmosphere, or becomes stored in the oceans or on land.
The oceans in particular have helped to slow climate change as they absorb and then store the carbon for thousands of years.
The IPCC Special Report on the Oceans and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, published last month, identified this critical role that the ocean play in regulating our climate along with the need to increase our monitoring and understanding of ocean health.
But the vast nature of the oceans, covering over 70% of the Earth’s surface, illustrates why satellites are an important component of any monitoring.
The new study, led by the University of Exeter, says that increased exploitation of existing satellites will enable us to fill “critical knowledge gaps” for monitoring our climate.
The work reports that satellites originally launched to study the wind, also have the capability to observe how rain, wind, waves, foam and temperature all combine to control the movement of heat and carbon dioxide between the ocean and the atmosphere.
Conceptual and simplified view of interactions, exchange, and circulation of carbon dioxide (CO2) within the ocean, identifying where satellite‐based Earth observation is likely to play a leading role in expanding understanding and capability:
(1) atmospheric measurements at the ocean surface;
(2) quantifying gas, momentum, and heat atmosphere–ocean exchange processes;
(3) capturing near‐surface gradients in the water;
and (4) measuring internal circulation and surface transport.
Additionally, satellites launched to monitor gas emissions over the land are also able to measure carbon dioxide emissions as they disperse over the ocean.
Future satellite missions offer even greater potential for new knowledge, including the ability to study the internal circulation of the oceans.
New constellations of commercial satellites, designed to monitor the weather and life on land, are also capable of helping to monitor ocean health.
“Monitoring carbon uptake by the oceans is now critical to understand our climate and for ensuring the future health of the animals that live there,” said lead author Dr Jamie Shutler, of the Centre for Geography and Environmental Scienceon Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall.
Examples of Earth observation data for quantifying surface ocean carbon
Examples of Earth observation data for quantifying total CO2 transport
“By monitoring the oceans we can gather the necessary information to help protect ecosystems at risk and motivate societal shifts towards cutting carbon emissions.”
The research team included multiple European research institutes and universities, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the European Space Agency.
The researchers call for a “robust network” that can routinely observe the oceans.
This network would need to combine data from many different satellites with information from automated instruments on ships, autonomous vehicles and floats that can routinely measure surface water carbon dioxide.
And recent computing advancements, such as Google Earth Engine, which provides free access and computing for scientific analysis of satellite datasets, could also be used.
The study suggests that an international charter that makes satellite data freely available during major disasters should be expanded to include the “long-term man-made climate disaster”, enabling commercial satellite operators to easily contribute.
The paper, published this week in Frontiers in Ecology and Environment, is entitled: “Satellites will address critical science priorities for quantifying ocean carbon.”
Monday, November 4, 2019
The last house on Holland Island in October 2009.
It fell into Chesapeake Bay in October 2010
source : Wipkipedia
From Forbes by Erik Kobayashi-Solomon
I have some good news and bad news about sea level rise.
First for the bad news – two pieces, one from each coast.
From the East Coast, the bad news came in the form of an excellent New York Times feature story, As Sea Levels Rise, So Do Ghost Forests.
The Ghost Forests in the title are not Halloween-related but refer to trees in low-lying coastal areas that are dying off due to incursions of seawater from rising seas.
Communities in these areas are struggling as much as the trees, since human roots are as susceptible to damage from rising seas as are the arboreal variety.
From the West Coast – the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, to be exact – comes a bad news report entitled Strategies to Address Climate Change in Low- and Moderate-income Communities (see also the NY Times coverage of this report).
This report echoes the warnings your correspondent offered last year after Hurricane Michael devastated the panhandle of Florida, Climate Change Will Eat Your Bond Portfolio.
Namely, that the financial system as a whole is at risk due to the projected convexity in the severity of climate-related infrastructure damage.
While these stories both came out this month, the effects of sea level rise on coastal communities is not a seasonal story, nor is it a recent one either.
The city of New Orleans was, in your correspondent's opinion, fundamentally and permanently changed by the effects of Hurricane Katrina.
source : Wikipedia
Almost five years to the day before the Times Ghost Forest story ran, the Union of Concerned Scientists published a detailed report entitled Encroaching Tides that details the scientific community’s best estimates for coastal inundation on the East and the Gulf Coasts over the next three decades.
Tidal Flooding and Sea Level Rise: The Growing Impacts of Global Warming
As sea level rises higher over the next 15 to 30 years, tidal flooding is expected to occur more often, cause more disruption, and even render some areas unusable — all within the time frame of a typical home mortgage.
As sea level rises higher over the next 15 to 30 years, tidal flooding is expected to occur more often, cause more disruption, and even render some areas unusable — all within the time frame of a typical home mortgage.
One of the surprising takeaways of the study is that the UCS estimates that by 2045, Washington D.C.
will experience 380 flooding events per year due to a combination of sea level rise and land subsidence (caused by mid-continental bounce-back after the last Ice Age).
My only hope is that the message about the necessity of an immediate response to climate change will make it to Capital Hill before the daily inundation does.
The bad news is clear – climate change, whose effects are now quite mild, will cause major economic and societal problems within your and your correspondent’s lifetimes.
Oceans have absorbed enough heat that these climate change effects are – in my opinion and in the opinions of people whose opinions count for something – inevitableat this point.
What could possibly be the good news about inevitable sea level rise?
Thanks to the amazing adaptability of the human species and its economic expression in the form of capitalism, intelligent investors stand the chance to maintain and increase their wealth by investing in strategies to adapt to the perfectly foreseeable tragedies ahead of us.
One organization at the forefront of the push to adapt, and which is adding real value to society is the First Street Foundation, a nonprofit research and technology group using state-of-the-art computer modeling techniques to calculate and inform home buyers of the financial risks of purchasing real estate that is increasingly prone to climate change-related inundation.
The First Street Foundation's Heat Map showing projected property losses on the East and Gulf Coasts.
source : First Street Foundation
I mentioned First Street in a March article entitled That Sinking Feeling: Real Estate In An Age Of Climate Change and since then had a great talk with the foundation’s founder and CEO, Matthew Eby, as well.
As I mentioned in “That Sinking Feeling…”, First Street has already quantified the impact of increased tidal flooding on coastal home values along the East and Gulf coasts, calculating about 16 billion dollars in lost appreciation from Maine to Mississippi between 2005 and 2017 (the heat map above comes from that report).
Now, according to Eby, the Foundation, with a team of world-renowned flood modelers, researchers, and data scientists is modeling past, present and future flood risk for homes across the country.
They're calculating not only the risk from sea level rise, but from pluvial (rain), fluvial (river), and storm surge flooding as well.
As a denizen of the Midwest, I know that “pluvial” and “fluvial” flooding are terms with which we will all soon be very familiar.
First Street is working to provide its house-by-house flood model to people free of charge, through its online visualization tool Flood IQ.
Eby’s group also plan to share the data with academic researchers for secondary analysis, allowing academics to quantify the national economic impacts of flooding.
The Foundation plans to offset the cost of its nonprofit work by selling its flood data to for-profit businesses, businesses who wish to do internal analysis or distribute the information through consumer facing platforms, like real estate websites.
First Street provides house-by-house flooding risk data via the FloodIQ.com website.
Another innovative company about which I learned about recently is called Kradle Structural Lifting Systems.
Kradle’s globe-trotting CEO, George Leslie, is a former Canadian money manager who is helping Kradle’s founders to build a business around patented equipment designed to lift and level homes and other structures.
Before Kradle, the technology to lift structures – hydraulic lifts and wood blocks – was quite literally vintage 18th Century.
Local contractors do lift and level houses inch-by-laborious-inch using this centuries-old technology, but these contractors’ services are specialized and expensive.
Kradle has four different product lines that bring the task of house raising and leveling into the 21st Century.
Kradle’s ATLAS product line is a mobile system that can be set up around the perimeter of a building and used to lift it – providing a temporary, elevated foundation for the structure.
Kradle's ATLAS system at work.
Note how much clearance space there is to construct the new elevated foundation under the elevated house.
source : Kradle Structural Lift Systems
Kradle’s ATLAS system can be setup by as few as two workers and can lift houses to a clear height of an amazing 20 feet with the supports placed 75 feet apart.
The extra clearance allows for workers to easily operate construction equipment underneath the house, so whatever repairs need to be done can be done quickly and easily.
The system has proven itself effective in hundreds of lifts already.
Leslie’s plan is to lease the equipment to construction contractors in different geographical locations – pioneering what I’ll call a “Lifting-as-a-Service” business model.
They just signed a New Zealand-based operating partner and are in negotiations with several groups in Connecticut, Florida, and Texas.
Kradle's TITAN is permanently installed in the foundation of a building.
Leslie says TITAN can be installed on an existing house, a new property or even a mobile type of manufactured building
source : Kradle Structural Lift Systems
While ATLAS is moved from job site to job site, the company’s TITAN product is left permanently in place at the foundation of a structure.
TITAN allows for on-demand elevation of the entire structure up to about 10 feet in the event of flooding.
In other words, rather than having an in-home elevator, TITAN clients – the first of whom is having the system installed in British Columbia, Canada – will have a whole-home elevator.
Another Kradle product, PLANUM, is also permanently installed equipment that allows for automatic leveling of foundations in areas where subsidence is a problem.
I wish I would have known about this product a few years ago, when my mother had to have jacks installed to level out my childhood home in Houston, Texas.
In addition to these products, Kradle also provides specialized lifting services for clients with very particular needs.
For instance, it received a commission to elevate a climate research center in Greenland operated by the US Government and submitted a proposal to elevate a 500-year old European stone cathedral in danger of being inundated with rising sea levels.
One of Kradle's Special Projects -- an Arctic Elevation Platform for researchers in Greenland.
source : Kradle Structural Lift Systems
Leslie tells me that Kradle’s order book is filling up quickly, and that the firm will likely be raising capital next year to meet working capital needs as it expands.
I told him to keep my number handy when he needs a capital injection.
This is a great business that already is seeing a surge of demand globally.
Who wants to fund the 20,000th iPhone app when you can be a part of this kind of business?
Eby and Leslie know, as I do, that the only way to build and maintain intergenerational wealth in this century will be by investing in a new paradigm.
Intelligent investors take note.
- BBC : Climate change: Sea level rise to affect 'three times more people'
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- Forbes : French Ponder Atlantic Coast Dam To Save Towns From Rising Seas
- National Geographic :
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