Recent climate change models and new evidence of accelerated warming may have fatal consequences for the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Scientists predict that rising sea levels and intense storms will inundate the land it has occupied since 1845. Lacking action now, climate change could force the Navy to relocate the Academy by 2100.
The Academy is only one of scores of U.S. military bases that may be swallowed by rising seas. Even with growing recognition of the problem and a new sense of urgency among U.S. policymakers, there already are too many greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to reverse the gradual warming of the planet.
2. For accelerating Arctic ice melt predictions, see Congressional Research Service (CRS), “Climate Change: Science and Policy Implications,” 2 May 2007, 32; CRS, “Climate Change: Science Highlights (CRS Report RL34266)”, 23 February 2009, 8; CRS, “Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress,” 13 December 2018, 19.
3. W. V. Sweet, et al., “Global And Regional Sea Level Rise Scenarios For The United States” in NOAA Technical Report NOS CO-OPS 083 (Silver Spring, MD: January 2017), vi, 14, 21, and 23.
4. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), “Global Warming of 1.5°C.” October 2018; Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis, “The World Has Just Over a Decade to Get Climate Change Under Control, U.N. Scientists Say,” Washington Post, 7 October 2018; Brad Plumer and Nadja Popovich, “Why Half a Degree of Global Warming Is a Big Deal,” New York Times, 7 October 2018.
6. The Naval Academy is using an intermediate to intermediate-high estimate of sea rise by 2100 (two- to four-foot sea rise) for its planning purposes.
7. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “’Nuisance Flooding’ an Increasing Problem as Coastal Sea Levels Rise,” 28 July 2014; NOAA, “Sea Level Rise and Nuisance Flood Frequency Changes around the United States,” in NOAA Technical Report NOS CO-OPS 073 (June 2014). See also, Angela Fritz, “Mid-Atlantic Has Largest Rise in Nuisance Flooding Since the 1960s,” The Washington Post, 29 July 2014.
8. Union of Concerned Scientists, “The US Military on the Front Lines of Rising Seas” (2016).
9. Shawn Snow, “$3.6 Billion Price Tag to Rebuild Lejeune Buildings Damaged by Hurricane Florence,” Marine Times, 12 December 2018.
10. NOAA, Hurricane Isabel, September 18–19, 2003 report (May 2004); Jason Samenow, “If Hurricane Sandy Had Come South: Worst Case Storm Surge Scenario For Washington, D.C.,” The Washington Post, 1 November 2012.
11. Justin Gillis and Somini Sengupta, “Progress Seen in New Goals on Warming,” The New York Times, 28 November 2015.
12. Chris Mooney, “Countries Vow to Cut Carbon Emissions. They Aren’t Even Close to Their Goals, U.N. Report Finds,” Washington Post, 27 November 2018; Somini Sengupta, “The Paris Accord Promised a Climate Solution; Here’s Where We Are Now,” The New York Times, 16 December 2018.
13. J. Hansen, et al., “Ice Melt, Sea Level Rise and Superstorms: Evidence from Paleoclimate Data, Climate Modeling, and Modern Observations that 2°C Global Warming Is Highly Dangerous,” Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics 15, 2015; Justin Gillis, “Scientists Warn of Perilous Climate Shift within Decades, Not Centuries,” The New York Times, 23 March 2016, A11.
14. U.S. Global Change Research Program, National Climate Assessment, Appx. 5, 52–53 (November 2018). There is little debate among climatologists that the continued rise of global temperatures as a result of human-created greenhouse gases will cause the melt of the polar ice caps. What scientists are unsure of is when it will occur. Estimates range from one to two centuries. See Michael Mann and Tom Toles, The Madhouse Effect (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016), 27–29.
15. W. V. Sweet, et al., “Global And Regional Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the United States,” 1.
16. See National Research Council, “National Security Implications of Climate Change for U.S. Naval Forces,” Washington DC: National Academy of Sciences, 2011, 74. The NRC study was overseen by Navy Admiral Frank “Skip” Bowman, former Chief of Naval Personnel and Director of Naval Nuclear Propulsion. See also Union of Concerned Scientists, “The U.S. Military on the Front Lines of Rising Seas,” 2016.