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Surging Seas

The water will come

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HOW: The Water Will Come is available from your local library in print, eBook, and downloadable audio format. To request, visit http://www.wcls.org if you live in Whatcom County, or http://www.bellinghampubliclibrary.org if you live within Bellingham city limits.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Flash forward to 2050. Most of Blaine and Birch Bay are underwater, as are Sandy Point, big sections of Slater and Ferndale roads, Squalicum Harbor, the new waterfront development, the Bellingham Cruise Terminal, and parts of Fairhaven—to name a few places in Whatcom County.

This is the future indicated by Surging Seas, an interactive map created by the website Climate Central, where visitors map potential sea level changes based on whether we continue current behaviors or make carbon cuts.

It is a future that is difficult to imagine, a mere several decades from now. To learn more about the factors impacting this predicted change and why, how and where it may happen, journalist Jeff Goodell’s critically acclaimed book, The Water will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World is a great starting point. In it, he stresses that the question is not “if” the water will rise, but “how fast” and “how high.” Goodell is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, and has covered climate change for 15 years.

In Goodell’s prologue, he imagines Miami in 2037 after a fictional hurricane and its subsequent sea-level rise render the city largely underwater. A wastewater treatment plant is knocked out and cholera becomes a very real threat. A nuclear reactor is damaged, enveloping the city in a radioactive cloud. Clouds of mosquitoes spread Zika and other viruses. It is an effective attention-getter, well within the realm of imagination after the intensity of recent hurricanes Irma, Harvey, and Maria.

Traveling to cities in peril in 12 countries to assess impacts of rising seas, Goodell points out that the hardest hit would be poorer populations in areas least equipped to deal with infrastructure problems. Whole islands may be submerged, and residents of coastal cities in the developing world displaced, creating as many as 200 million climate refugees by 2050, according to one estimate.

Scientists have posited that sea levels might rise a little more than three feet by 2100, but many now believe that six feet is a better estimate. A sea-level rise of six feet would affect one out of eight homes in Florida. Despite this, here in the United States, there are plenty of climate change deniers, and coastal city developers focused only on short-term gains. When Goodell asks an influential developer in Miami how he can keep investing and building considering this possible future, he responds with a flippant “By that time, I’ll be dead, so what does it matter?”

As the reality of this possible future enters our collective psyche, works of fiction are also starting to explore these high-water scenarios. American War by Omar El Akkad imagines America in 2075, in civil war over disagreements about our use of fossil fuels and with much of the coastline as we know it underwater. Other excellent dystopian novels set in climate change-induced rising seas are The End We Start From by Megan Hunter (London underwater) and New York 2140 by Hugo and Nebula award-winning science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson.

For further nonfiction exploration of climate change encompassing multiple perspectives on the issue, search the library catalog for the subjects “climatic changes” or “paleoclimatology.”

Lisa Gresham is the Collection Support Manager for Whatcom County Library System. She lives at ~600 feet above sea level and is working to reduce her carbon footprint.

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Events
Today
Whatcom Water Week

10:00am|Whatcom County

Whatcom Water Week

10:00am|Whatcom County

Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Singin' in the Rain, Jr.

7:00pm|Ferndale High School

Tuesdays with Morrie and On Approval

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

And Then There Were None

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Student warriors march for climate justice

9:00am

Skagit County Garage Sale

9:00am|Skagit County Fairgrounds

Wild Things

9:30am|Whatcom Falls Park

Whatcomics Call for Art

10:00am|Whatcom County

Voter Registration Event

11:00am|Bellingham Public Library

Books and Bites

1:00pm|Blaine Library

Ferndale Farmers Market

2:00pm|1750 LaBounty Dr.

Whatcom Museum Tag Sale

5:00pm|Syre Education Center

Open Mic Night

6:00pm|Deming Library

Family Story Night

6:00pm|Fairhaven Library

The Cody Rivers Show presents Baderson

6:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham, historic Fairhaven

The mystery and the mania

7:00pm

Trivia Night Fundraiser

7:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Downriver

7:00pm|Village Books

Edgar Allan

7:30pm|Firehouse Arts and Events Center

Godlike

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Miss Fitts

8:00pm|Cirque Lab

Improv Evolution

9:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Tomorrow
Whatcom Water Week

10:00am|Whatcom County

Whatcom Water Week

10:00am|Whatcom County

Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Singin' in the Rain, Jr.

7:00pm|Ferndale High School

And Then There Were None

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Tuesdays with Morrie and On Approval

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Skagit County Garage Sale

9:00am|Skagit County Fairgrounds

Whatcomics Call for Art

10:00am|Whatcom County

Whatcom Museum Tag Sale

5:00pm|Syre Education Center

The Cody Rivers Show presents Baderson

6:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham, historic Fairhaven

Godlike

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Miss Fitts

8:00pm|Cirque Lab

Improv Evolution

9:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|Ferndale Senior Center

Hamster Endurance Runs

8:00am|Lake Padden

Giant Pumpkin Festival and Weigh-Off

9:00am|Christianson's Nursery

Anacortes Farmers Market

9:00am|Depot Arts Center

Mount Vernon Farmers Market2333

9:00am|Riverwalk Park

Twin Sisters Farmers Markets

9:00am|North Fork Library

Mindful Meditation and Combining Food Wisely

9:00am|Community Food Co-op

Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day Live!

10:00am

Boating Center Fall Hours

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Blaine Gardeners Market

10:00am|H Street Plaza

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Lynden Farmers Market

10:00am|Centennial Park

Purls & Pop-Ups Yarn Crawl

10:00am|Whatcom County

Correspondence Club

10:30am|Mindport Exhibits

Your Life is a Story Writer's Group

10:30am|South Whatcom Library

Persistence of Light

10:30am|Lynden Library

Backyard Fairies

11:00am|North Fork Library

Cemetery Tours

11:00am|Lynden Cemetery

One Planet

11:00am|Peace Arch Park

Fall Show Reception

2:00pm|River Gallery

Sedro-Woolley Brewfest

2:00pm|Hammer Heritage Square

Remembering Ella Higginson

3:00pm|Deming Library

Nooksack River Walk

3:00pm|Horseshoe Bend Trailhead

Gardening Rount Table

3:00pm|North Fork Library

Wayne Carter Book Signing

3:00pm|Upper Skagit Library

Artist talk with Drie Chapek

4:00pm|i.e. gallery

PechaKucha Night

5:00pm|Museum of Northwest Art

International Day of Peace with WPJC

6:00pm|The Majestic

Homeless for a Night

6:00pm| Allen United Methodist Church

The Sound and the Glory

7:00pm|Village Books

Blue Abode Comedy Show

7:00pm|Blue Abode Bar

Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham, historic Fairhaven

Modern Slavery

7:30pm|Lummi Island Library

Salsa Night

9:00pm|Cafe Rumba

Sunday
Whatcom Water Week

10:00am|Whatcom County

Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Tuesdays with Morrie and On Approval

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

And Then There Were None

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

Whatcomics Call for Art

10:00am|Whatcom County

Miss Fitts

8:00pm|Cirque Lab

Hamster Endurance Runs

8:00am|Lake Padden

Boating Center Fall Hours

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Homeless for a Night

6:00pm| Allen United Methodist Church

Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham, historic Fairhaven

Oyster Run Motorcycle Rally

9:00am|Downtown Anacortes

Brunch on the Bay

10:00am|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Birchwood Farmers Market

10:00am|Park Manor Shopping Center

Bellingham Handmade Market

11:00am|Goods Nursery and Produce

Langar in Lynden

11:00am| Guru Nanak Gursikh Gurdwara

Bellingham Veg Fest

11:00am|Depot Market Square

Walk to End Alzheimer's

12:00pm|Riverwalk Plaza

Audubon at the Museum

1:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

George Winston

2:00pm|McIntyre Hall

More than a piano man

2:00pm

Open Borders

4:00pm|Village Books

Skookum Rocks the Farm

7:00pm|Bellewood Acres

Seattle International Comedy Competition Audition Showcase

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

see our complete calendar »