Study Warns On Global Warming
Newresearch shows that in 100 years, global warming could affectthe oceans such that a major storm would generate enough stormsurge to submerge parts of the city of Boston.Medford/Somerville,Mass.
Medford/Somerville, Mass. [02.22.05] Steadily rising global temperatures could have a majorimpact on Boston over the next 100 years. A new study conductedin part by Tufts researchers and funded by the Environmental ProtectionAgency shows that global warming could raise the sea level enoughthat a major storm could send water flooding into downtown Bostonand cause damage costing up to $94 million.
"Theblizzard of '78 was the so-called '100-year storm. That stormis going to occur a lot more frequently than the average of onceevery 100 years," PaulKirshen, a research professor in Tufts' civil and environmentalengineering department, told WBZ News Radio 1030 AM.
The five-yearstudy – Climate'sLong-Term Impacts on Metro Boston (CLIMB) – was commissionedby the EPA and undertaken by researchers at Tufts, Boston Universityand the University of Maryland.
Commissionedby then-President Bill Clinton, the research is the first detailed,EPA-sanctioned examination of the effects of global warming ona city, according to The Boston Globe. The findings suggestthe planet’s gradual warming may have a significant impacton coastal cities like Boston.
Accordingto the research conducted by Kirshen and his colleagues, the meltingof the polar ice caps and other effects of global warming canraise the sea level by as much as three feet in the Boston areaover the next century.
Flooding,say the researchers, will likely pose a major threat to the city.
"Theocean is now going to be two or three feet higher around here,"Kirshen explained on ABC's Good Morning America. "So,that means any storm surge is going to be two or three feet higheras well. So, instead of the storm surge here being five feet,it's going to be eight feet or so."
Flood waterscould reach across the downtown and waterfront areas, into BackBay and even as far north as Harvard Square. Coastal floodingcould reach from Rockport down to Duxbury.
The city'saging infrastructure – including a subway line built inthe 19th century – could also cause problems. The studyadvised on flood-proofing buildings and working to become moreenergy-efficient while at the same time trying to reduce greenhousegas emissions, the Globe reported.
The reportalso indicated that temperature increases will also test the city’sinfrastructure.
By the endof the 21st century, according to the study, the number of dayswhere the average temperature exceeds 90 degrees could hit 30days per year – more than twice the current number. Thatcould result in higher energy use, an increased mortality rateand decreased quality of water for supporting aquatic plant andanimal life.
The studyis raising eyebrows – and awareness.
"Thebig message is it makes sense to take action," Kirshen toldthe Globe. ''It makes a lot more sense to adjust to climatechange before we actually start feeling the impacts."
Environmentaladvocacy groups are using the study as a launching point for educatingabout the dangers of global warming.
"Thispresents a very stark picture of what Boston may look like ifwe take no significant action to address climate change,"Philip Warburg, president of the Boston-based Conservation LawFoundation, told the Globe.