Donald Cahill’s March 13 letter regarding climate change and sea-level rise is full of errors, misconceptions and poor science — not to mention a cavalier dismissal of future catastrophic impacts that we are headed toward, if we don’t reduce our carbon emissions and halt global warming.
Mr. Cahill is wrong. Average global sea levels have risen about 9 inches since the Industrial Revolution. This is due to melting ice on the land (Greenland, Antarctica, and nearly every glacier in the world). Ice melts and the water runs into the ocean. The water is also warmer, so it expands (thermal expansion). Mr. Cahill should also note that nearly every coastal location in the world is, in fact, suffering a great deal.
New Jersey (and Maryland) fair especially poorly, because our coastal land is also subsiding — by about 4 to 5 inches in the last century. Therefore, the Mid-Atlantic region has had at least a 12-inch rise in sea level since the Industrial Revolution. This is causing significant havoc to our coastal infrastructure.
Mr. Cahill is correct that the climate on Earth has changed many times. But this is the first time we’re causing it and it’s the first time we care and it’s the first time we’re suffering. We can’t just pick up our towns and cities and move away from rising seas!
Mr. Cahill is also wrong — controlling climate change is absolutely possible. We understand the science and we know how to solve it (become carbon neutral!). The urgency of the problem can not be overstated. It is the greatest crisis mankind has ever faced. The sooner most of us recognize this, the sooner we can demand that our elected officials act to mitigate climate change. We have spectacularly failed to act for decades, we now face an even more pressing crisis that will cost even more money and be even more difficult to implement. It will not be easy, but this should not deter us. We must find the will to act.
I recommend any number of U.S. agencies where Mr. Cahill can find the data to better understand this information — the DOD, DOC, DOT, DOE, DOI, HHS, NOAA, NASA, and the EPA, just to name a few.