By Benjamin Maxwell
BOSTON – August 12, 2125: Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Oceanographic Research (MIOR) held a press conference this morning at their Juniper Point headquarters to reveal the unsettling findings of their continued research into rising sea levels as a result of global warming. The main point of the conference was to dispel the consensus of the past one hundred-plus years that the expected rise in sea levels had been exaggerated, as detailed in research from the Hamburg Meteorological Institute (HMI) as far back as 2014.
“Those results from Marochke (of HMI) have been disputed for years, but there has never been any definitive proof one way or the other,” said Paul Stevenson, director of the MIOR. “I am afraid we have very recently confirmed factors that indicate a catastrophic effect on a huge portion of the world’s coastal areas.”
MIOR has released the 320-page document, according to Stevenson, to spur development of solutions to the expected displacement of billions of the world’s residents who live in coastal areas.
“We once expected a rise (in sea levels) of no more than twenty or thirty feet in a worst-case scenario,” said Stevenson. “Our conservative estimates are looking at a rise of at least one hundred and fifty feet. We estimate that in the United States alone, we will lose, on average, around a hundred miles of our coast.”
A search of the document revealed a map of the east coast after a sea level increase of one hundred and fifty feet. Much of New England, including Boston, is expected to be underwater by 2140. Most major coastal cities will also be devastated, according to the document. New York, Philadelphia, Trenton, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Richmond, Charlotte, Charleston will all be lost.
On the west coast, the picture is not much brighter, as Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles will also be submerged.
“We are talking about the displacement and relocation of a quarter of a billion people,” said President Nichols. “The American people will pull together and find a way to get through these tragic events.”
Marilee Jameson, U.S. Department of Housing Development, commented that America is facing an almost impossible task of building massive cities from the ground up, in a matter of about fifteen years.
“I’m not saying it’s impossible. But it will be one of the biggest challenges our country has ever faced,” said Jameson.
But not everyone believes relocating people inland in the best solution. Mohammad Almasi of the Dubai Maritime Institute, United Arab Emirates, notes, “There have been such advances in acrylic technologies over the past seventy-five years, that we believe it may be possible to cover an entire city.”
There are countless critics of this idea, but Almasi says that they are perfecting a technological process that will enable them to build a solid acrylic wall in place in a nearly continuous construct. His scientists have successfully created a dome one hundred meters in diameter and twenty meters tall.
“But this is just a proof of concept,” Almasi said. “It’s one thing to build a dome on land in the middle of a desert, but quite another to have a dome that can withstand the pressure of being underwater.”
Still, Almasi remains confident that it can be done.
The feasibility of such endeavors remains to be seen. Building dozens of cities capable of housing a quarter of a billion people in the next fifteen years doesn’t seem much more realistic to some. In either case, the clock is ticking, and we are going to need a bold plan to avoid disaster.
Ben Maxwell is a staff writer for the Boston Chronicle. His stories focus largely on environmental issues and health matters. You can follow him online at our web site.