May 12, 2014

Dear #BigOil in #Houston — you have a self-inflicted problem

Actually, you have about 4 feet of self-inflicted problem. That's how much sea level rise is already, apparently, irreversible due to global warming's effect on the West Antarctic ice sheet.

Now, Big Oil is everywhere. It's in San Antonio with the Eagle Ford shale play. As the previous presidential administration of Mutt and Jeff showed, it was in abundance in Dallas.

So why pick on Houston?

Well, I could have picked on Port Arthur, or Beaumont, for similar reasons.

Here's why. Many places along the Gulf Coast are contending with subsidence from oil/gas extraction and groundwater pumping as well as beach erosion.

And, some of those could be at or a touch below sea level already. Indeed, some parts of older Houston, with a longer history of both water and oil extraction, may be at current sea level, or a touch below.

Houston area after a 5-foot sea level rise/NYT graphic
In other words, parts of Houston are in a bowl. Perhaps not as bad as New Orleans' lower Ninth Ward, but bad enough. At left is the scenario in Houston with a sea level rise of just about what the West Antarctic meltdown guarantees.

Other than the Ship Channel, but, schadenfreude, home of the refineries, Houston itself isn't in trouble. Galveston is, though.

And, while the West Antarctic meltdown may take as long as 200 years, ice elsewhere at both poles will also continue to melt.

And, this is just with calm seas, whether a prosperous voyage is also included or not, courtesy of Beethoven's muse or anything else.

Let's add in another thought, also from NOLA.

Katrina. Remember, Houstonians, the somewhat similar degree of pants-shitting happening down there over the precise course of Hurricane Ike?

OK, bring on another Ike, with that shoreline above, and give it a worst-course scenario. I'll not paint a totally black picture; Ike 2.0 will be kept at no larger than Category 3 on hurricane strength.

Anyway, Galveston gets obliterated.

The refineries in the Ship Channel get flooded out of operation for two weeks. The lowest parts of the city of Houston become a bowl of mosquito-infested water for the same length of time.

Houston area after a 12-foot sea level rise/NYT graphic
And, that's just with a rise of a little bit above four feet. The New York Times says the loss of these ice sheets could destabilize others enough to make the ultimate rise hit 10 feet or so.

Add in rising sea level from warmer ocean temperatures and other things, and you get something like the 12-foot rise pictured at left. Goodbye, Galveston Island. The entire Ship Channel is also underwater.

And, without Galveston Island and the Bolivar Peninsula as giant breakwaters, Houston itself stares straight into the teeth of hurricanes hitting the upper Texas Gulf Coast.

How's them apples?

Big Oil doesn't care, or it continues the denialism. That's even as it finds it easier to spend big bucks spreading the denialism rather than doing something. And, note to John Roberts, the alleged "umpire" chief justice who needs to buy MLB's instant replay machinery to check his calls — it's this type of "dark money" spending which is the ultimate philosophy driving campaign finance today. If you can't see corruption, it's because you don't want to see corruption.

Anyway, Big Oil and friends has already helped guarantee this 4-foot rise is baked in. Unavoidable. Contra nutbars in the Senate like Ted Cruz, Jim Imhofe, and Tom Coburn, there's no god magically smiling on the USofA to stop this, either.

That said, Ted Cruz's grandson and Pat Robertson's great-grandson will someday blame this on teh gayz or something. Or else they'll claim it's a sign of the Apocalypse. But, sorry, there will be no god magically rapturing you out of your flooded home, either.

As for Big Oil? What do you expect from an industry in cahoots with the railroad industry that has workers cleaning out tanker cars in abominably unsafe conditions?

No comments: