Hip-Boot Tour Warns Residents of Rising Sea Levels
Clean Air-Cool Planet, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding global warming solutions, launched its U.S. Hip-Boot Tour this week. Working with local partners in various U.S. East coast cities, the group has also brought ice scientists from Greenland to assess the vulnerability of those cities to rising sea levels.
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“The inspiration for the Hip-Boot Tour came from testimony by David Carlson from Cambridge University before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,” says Bill Burtis, communications director for Clean Air-Cool Planet. “He’s the head of the International Polar Year investigation. His testimony caught our attentions because he said we can expect a meter rise in sea levels by 2100 – it was not conjecture.”
Carlson recommended that Clean Air-Cool Planet work directly with those scientists who were contributing to the IPY report, so they came over from Greenland; they all worked to identify cities up and down the East coast likely to be impacted by rising sea levels, and those cities in states where Senators were sitting on the fence with climate legislation.
Taking the tour to the cities themselves means Clean Air-Cool Planet can set up symposia with the scientists for the residents there and hold public outreach events with demonstrations on the ground: here’s where high tide is now, here’s where it will be.
They are creating sea-level rise maps on their Web site to show the consequences of the one-meter sea level rise: the maps from Portland and Philadelphia are already up. Maps for Miami, Tampa/St.Pete, Wilmington NC, Norfolk VA and Hampton NH will soon follow. New York and Washington will wrap the tour up in early November.
“We’re saying, ‘Here’s what science says is probable; here are some solutions,’” Burtis says. Those include a strong cap-and-trade agreement and regulations of short-lived pollutants, those greenhouse gases that have short lives but act as forcers to the effects of the longer lived ones (like carbon dioxide); these include methane, black carbon and tropospheric ozone. “All of them have been identified as increasing and accelerating the rate of warming in the Arctic,” Burtis says. “We know how to regulate them and we need international consensus on how to regulate them quickly. By doing that we can buy time for the Arctic.
“We encourage people to urge their members of Congress to support climate legislation; be engaged in international policy aimed at reducing warming as member of the Arctic Council; and to think about, and plan for, some level of sea level rise. Some of it is already in the system and is unavoidable.”
Burtis hopes that the Hip-Boot Tour will be able to impart some urgency to these actions. “Global warming is not some far-away theory,” Burtis says. “We need to act quickly.”