Monday, June 12, 2006

Environmental Refugees & Congressional Power

The Congressional Research Service has a new research paper on the plight of environmental refugees and the implications for Congress, which is available through the US State Department.
The complications and suffering associated with Hurricane Katrina demonstrated that the evacuation and the relocation of tens of thousands of residents pose enormous challenges for public officials after catastrophes occur...The flooding of New Orleans and the widespread destruction of infrastructure in Mississippi and Louisiana...may possibly lead to the permanent relocation of entire communities. The issue before Congress is the scope and reach of federal policy regarding the evacuation of civilians and their resettlement and the implementation of that policy in light of the traditional role exercised by state authorities. |CRS|

On the topic of environmental refugees, the Wall Street Journal recently had an article by Sharon Begley titled: How Melting Glaciers Alter Earth's Surface, Spur Quakes, Volcanoes |WSJ (sub'n req'd)|. The article appeared June 9th, 2006 on page A11.

The article's thesis is that global warming causes not just wild weather, but also earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Because the earth's tectonic plates essentially float in a sea of magma, the melting of the glaciers will cause the plates to rise up in the crust, thus rising sea levels won't be a problem for Alaska as it will literally rise out of the water.

What Begley's article points out is that the plates don't just rise up, but sort of bounce (isostatic rebound is the scientific term), and this bouncing gradually slows over 1000's of years. But the effect is that this bouncing causes more earthquakes and volcanoes, not only along the edge of plates, but within plates as well.

Or at least that's the geologists current understanding. Who could have guessed that global warming would be so destructive?

Surely even global warming skeptics will have to admit that given the potential calamitous effects of global warming, a prudent approach should be taken and mitigation strategies should be investigated and implemented immediately.