Rising Seas/Sinking Land

A new study from Tulane University points out a problem often ignored regarding our changing environment:

Yes, ice is melting at the poles and in mountain chains, and the melt is causing sea levels to rise.

However, at the same time, coastal land is subsiding/sinking, as part of a natural geological process.

This is a glaring problem for coastal communities in Louisiana, some of which are already threatened with extinction by rising waters. The rate of land subsidence varies with the composition of the earth in each location. Delta/silt may sink faster than rocky coastline, placing areas like the Mississippi Delta, much of the Gulf Coast, southeastern NJ, Delaware, coastal areas of the Carolinas and Georgia, Florida, and Baja California at highest risk. Most projections appear to show the entire state of Florida disappearing under the water.

This is a big deal. Cities and industries will need to be protected or move. In the US, naval bases and shipyards will be come unusable, and expensive infrastructure like the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel will fail. The costs and time required to prepare means that waiting until the last minute isn’t feasible. Yet that’s what we seem to be doing.

The current debate over “climate change” makes no sense. Regardless of the cause, change is coming, and we can either try to prepare for it, or — in this case literally — get swamped by it.


  1. Molly E. Keogh, Torbjörn E. Törnqvist. Measuring rates of present-day relative sea-level rise in low-elevation coastal zones: a critical evaluation. Ocean Science, 2019; 15 (1): 61 DOI: 10.5194/os-15-61-2019
  2. Tulane University. “Seas may be rising faster than thought: Current method of measuring sea-level rise may not be reliable.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 January 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190130134227.htm>

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