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Aug. 05, 2011

Climate change: Shaping, changing, & shifting shorelines

by Neil Wagner

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In the 1978 film Superman, the Man of Steel’s nemesis (Lex Luthor) plots to trigger a massive earthquake along the San Andreas Fault. Since his plan calls for everything west of the fault line to crash into the ocean, Luthor delights in knowing his virtually-worthless land east of the fault will become valuable oceanfront property.

If the film were remade today, I would humbly suggest Luthor take a different tac. With the aid of a Greenhouse Gas Output Thingie (henceforth referred to as “GGOT”), the evil genius would buy land far inland, crank up the Earth’s temperature, raise sea levels, and still end up with the object of his desire… oceanfront property.

In this version, though, his plan would ultimately be self-defeating. Since global warming would spin out of his control, his property, too, would end up underwater.

In real life, unfortunately, we are ALL operating GGOTs big and small. By burning fossil fuels, our vehicles, buildings, power plants, et al, are warming the climate and raising sea levels. Superman would not be pleased.

From Live Science: A new study of the potential sand losses to North Carolina beaches reports that a 1-foot rise in sea level in the next 25 to 75 years (which is at the lower end of the range predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) would cause the coast to move inland by 2,000 to 10,000 feet and could cost an estimated $223 million in lost recreational value by 2080 to beach-goers in that state alone.

From the Charlotte Observer: Climate change: Rising waters threaten North Carolina

Your creative idea could be chosen to appear in the September 23rd edition of What on Earth? which highlights Moving Planet, the worldwide event being planned by Bill McKibben’s 350.org environmental organization. Entering the contest is easy:

  1. Think of a green mode of transportation (Walking? Electric car? HANG GLIDING?) — the wilder the better — we want your craziest green ideas!
  2. Post your idea on the “What on Earth?” Facebook page www.facebook.com/whatonearthcomics by September 3, 2011.

That’s it! The winner will first be announced through 350.org. The What on Earth? comic strip featuring your idea will be circulated around the world including right here. Good luck!

Enter today!

About Neil Wagner

Neil Wagner's What on Earth? comic strip uses humor to discuss global warming.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.

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