In a Washington Post op/ed today, skeptical environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg aims to deflate climate apocalyptism a bit:
One of the scarier predictions about global warming is the suggestion that melting glaciers and ice caps could cause sea levels to rise as much as 15 to 20 feet over the next century. Set aside the fact that the best research we have - from the United Nations climate panel - says that global sea levels are not likely to rise more than about 20 inches by 2100. Rather, let's imagine that over the next 80 or 90 years, a giant port city - say, Tokyo - found itself engulfed by a sea-level rise of about 15 feet. Millions of inhabitants would be imperiled, along with trillions of dollars' worth of infrastructure. Without a vast global effort, could we cope with such a terrifying catastrophe?
Well, we already have. In fact, we're doing it right now.
Since 1930, excessive groundwater withdrawal has caused Tokyo to subside by as much as 15 feet. Similar subsidence has occurred over the past century in numerous cities, including Tianjin, Shanghai, Osaka, Bangkok and Jakarta. And in each case, the city has managed to protect itself from such large relative sea-level rises without much difficulty.
The process is called adaptation, and it's something we humans are very good at.
Whole column well worth pondering.
You may also want to look at my 2009 column where I ask, "Is Government Action Worse than Global Warming?"