Stopping global warming — and the sea — or else

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In such a world, not only would Long Island disappear underwater, but so would New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Norfolk, Charleston, Jacksonville, Miami, New Orleans, Houston, San Diego, San Francisco, London, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, Venice, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Baghdad, Kuwait City, Mumbai, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Sydney, Melbourne, Mogadishu, Mombasa and Dar es Salaam, among countless smaller municipalities.

And, oh, I almost forgot –– all of Florida would be underwater as well.

The magazine’s front cover is a photo illustration of the 305-foot-tall Statute of Liberty, half-submerged in murky saltwater. Under the headline “Rising Seas” are the words “No Ice” in smaller type. The cover should remind us that the decisions we make today –– how we produce electricity, how we power our vehicles, how we grow crops, how much stuff we consume –– could have dire consequences for generation upon generation to follow.

The excellent article on sea-level rise, written by Tim Folger and photographed by George Steinmetz, points to climate change as the main force driving our rising seas. It does not, however, address solutions that would stop, or at least slow, climate change.

The article begins by looking back at Hurricane Sandy horror stories, which, for Long Islanders, are all too familiar –– homes inundated with saltwater and ripped apart by the storm’s raging surge, cars floating down streets, all in one sleepless night that forever changed our perspective. There was no truly safe haven –– not even your own home –– we came to realize last Oct. 29.

Yes, nature is beautiful, but we can only run and hide and pray when it rears its ugly side. When it unleashes its full fury, nature destroys.

Folger also examines humans’ varied attempts to stop the sea when it attacks amid a tempest. In particular, he looks at the Netherlands’ 1,000-year-old flood mitigation system. Forty percent of the country, he notes, lies below sea level. If any nation should be worried about climate change and rising seas, it should be the Netherlands, and yet the country seems exceptionally calm about the question, knowing that it has prepared for this day, this era, for a very long time.
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