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Flooding of Coast, Caused by Global Warming, Has Already Begun
Scientists’ warnings that the rise of the sea would eventually imperil the United States’ coastline are no longer theoretical.
SEPT. 3, 2016
By JUSTIN GILLIS
New York Times
NORFOLK, Va. — Huge vertical rulers are sprouting beside low spots in the streets here, so people can judge if the tidal floods that increasingly inundate their roads are too deep to drive through.
Five hundred miles down the Atlantic Coast, the only road to Tybee Island, Ga., is disappearing beneath the sea several times a year, cutting the town off from the mainland.
And another 500 miles on, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., increased tidal flooding is forcing the city to spend millions fixing battered roads and drains — and, at times, to send out giant vacuum trucks to suck saltwater off the streets.
For decades, as the global warming created by human emissions caused land ice to melt and ocean water to expand, scientists warned that the accelerating rise of the sea would eventually imperil the United States’ coastline.
Now, those warnings are no longer theoretical: The inundation of the coast has begun. The sea has crept up to the point that a high tide and a brisk wind are all it takes to send water pouring into streets and homes.
Federal scientists have documented a sharp jump in this nuisance flooding — often called "sunny-day flooding" — along both the East Coast and the Gulf Coast in recent years. The sea is now so near the brim in many places that they believe the problem is likely to worsen quickly. Shifts in the Pacific Ocean mean that the West Coast, partly spared over the past two decades, may be hit hard, too.
These tidal floods are often just a foot or two deep, but they can stop traffic, swamp basements, damage cars, kill lawns and forests, and poison wells with salt. Moreover, the high seas interfere with the drainage of storm water.
It’s time to retire old, polluting coal plants. Here are two studies that explain why.
Addressing Pollution from Legacy Coal Power Plants in Texas
Prepared by: Daniel Cohan, Ph.D.
As Energy Future Holdings faces an uncertain financial future, three of its legacy coal-fired power plants from the former TXU feature prominently in the energy and air quality challenges confronting Texas. These 1970’s vintage facilities – Big Brown, Martin Lake, and Monticello – are among the leading emitters of air pollutants and greenhouse gases in Texas. Their emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) – more than 30,200 tons in 2011 – have been shown to contribute to excess levels of ground-level ozone in the Dallas- Fort Worth and Tyler-Longview-Marshall regions. Substantial reductions in NOx emissions will be needed in order for these regions to attain air quality standards for ozone, a pollutant that can cause respiratory illness and premature mortality. Their emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) have been modeled to exceed SO2 standards up to 10 miles downwind of each plant, and contribute to unhealthful particulate matter over far longer distances. Ozone and particulate matter increasingly have been linked to illness and mortality, prompting the Environmental Protection Agency to tighten air pollution standards for these pollutants. Meanwhile, these three power plants ranked nationally among the top five emitters of mercury, a potent neurotoxin linked to IQ impairment and other developmental problems in children.