Water is coming

As RWU sits on the edge of the ocean, the year-long series now underway centers around sea-level rise and climate change called “Ocean State/State of the Ocean: The Challenge of Sea Level Rise Over the Coming Century.” The common reading book by Jeff Goodell is titled, “The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World,” which he published in 2017. Goodell spoke at RWU on Oct. 2, an event required for first year students and encouraged for everyone.

Goodell began talking about climate change and rising temperatures. This sparked his idea for looking into rising sea levels. He published a story in Rolling Stone titled “Goodbye Miami,” which startled readers.

“I realized this was a global problem,” he said. “I went around the world to see it.”

He addressed five thoughts he had about sea level rise. The first point said hurricanes are like roulettes and sea level rise is like gravity. Second, the water will come but the question is how high and how fast? Third, trouble begins long before a city becomes the new Atlantis, meaning that water is flooding the places of residence. Fourth, he said billions and billions of dollars are spent on adaptation, some of them will be good money and well spent, while others of it will be band aids or dumb investments or waste of money. Lastly, he said that opportunity sometimes comes disguised as catastrophe.

“I really enjoyed [the speaker],” said freshman Bennett Flanagan. “I thought the book was really interesting.”

Goodell discussed the science behind melting ice, ice fractures and warming oceans.

According to the National Ocean Service, flooding is estimated to be from 300 percent to 900 percent more frequent within U.S. coastal communities than it was just 50 years ago. Forty percent of the population lives in these areas. Like Goodell said, this is happening because of rising ocean temperature and melting ice caps. Sea level is continuing to rise at a rate of about one eighth of an inch per year.

The current presidential administration has acted against efforts to prevent sea-level rise and climate change, so Goodell’s book was timely. Sea-level rise is a prominent issue that researchers are working to keep at bay.

“It will manifest itself in an incremental way,” he said. “What we think of now as really high tide will be a daily occurrence soon.”