The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

November 2, 2012

Are the world's great cities ready for rising waters and freak storms?

LONDON — We are a coast-hugging species. About 44 percent of the world's population live beside the seaside, and that number is set to rise. Why? Maritime commerce and easy access to all that lovely seafood spring to mind. But maybe there's a more fundamental reason, a human instinct touched upon by the sailor Ishmael, explaining his aquatic affection on the very first page of Moby Dick: "If they but knew it, almost all men in their degree, some time or other, cherish nearly the same feelings towards the ocean with me."

Unfortunately, the sea doesn't always return that tender affection. Like the number of coast-huggers, it too is set to rise. Between 1950 and 2009, global coastlines rose between 0.6 and 1 millimeter annually. Taken together, those two trends spell global disaster, albeit of the very, very gradual kind. So what if the sea swallows up a low-lying atoll here and there? Who cares if entire (albeit tiny) Pacific nations may be engulfed in a few decades? If it happens slowly enough for the victims to row away to safety, it surely happens too slowly for anyone else to notice. So, if you're a low-lying island nation, you probably need a clever media stunt for the world to pay any attention.

But add a noticeable rise in extreme weather to those creeping sea levels, throw in a high tide surge, and you've got Superstorm Sandy. Suddenly, New York looks eerily like it does in all those apocalyptic movies that were enjoyable because they seemed distant enough. Director Roland Emmerich's cinematic schadenfreude feels like a guilty pleasure now. It won't forever.

New York will survive, get on with business, and Sandy will recede in memory. But from now on, New Yorkers won't be able to say Mother Nature didn't give them notice. Folks in New Orleans got a similar, albeit more distressing, wake-up call in 2005 from Hurricane Katrina. In both cases, the storms are forebodings of the cities' future demise. Nothing is eternal. Like people and countries, cities too eventually kick the bucket. The likeliest scenario for New Orleans and New York is that they will die a watery death, swallowed up eventually by the otherwise life-giving sea. The waters will rise, steadily but imperceptibly, while Poseidon will occasionally reach into his war-chest for tempests to whack their defenses with — until they break.

Text Only
Local News
  • Meal to help fire chief

    July 25, 2014

  • No Headline Provided Illinois lottery (Friday) Pick Three-Midday: Pick Three-Evening: Pick Four Midday: Pick Four-Evening: Lucky Day (day): Lucky Day (eve): Lotto Jackpot: Indiana lottery (Friday) Daily Three-Midday: Daily Three-Evening: Daily Four-Midday: Daily Four-Ev

    July 25, 2014

  • Police, Fire Reports

    July 25, 2014

  • Grant enhances library garden DANVILLE — This summer, more children will have the opportunity to experience wildlife in the Children’s Wonder Garden at the Danville Public Library.This is thanks to a $1,213 grant from the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Illinois. The

    July 25, 2014

  • Pet event to benefit area shelter HOOPESTON — Here’s your chance to help homeless animals while having a good time.

    July 25, 2014

  • 'Oz' event supports literacy, Danville Library Foundation DANVILLE — The Danville Library Foundation announces its From Page to Stage: Vol. IV “Oz.”This year, the event will take audience members to “Oz” with two special celebrations. There will be the “Oz” concert and Emerald Ball and concert preview.At 3

    July 25, 2014

  • librarygreeting2.jpg Library sends to others: 'Greetings from Danville' DANVILLE – Library officials are asking children and adults to be a part of two library programs that ask them to send greetings to other towns named Danville around the country and “How do you Library?”Through Aug. 15, Danville residents can tell ot

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • East Main Street study continues DANVILLE — With the East Main Street construction finished, local representatives continue to meet to discuss the future of one of the main corridors in the city.A stakeholders group, including representatives from Danville Area Community College, th

    July 25, 2014

  • Varying subsidies worry consumers MIAMI — Linda Close was grateful to learn she qualified for a sizable subsidy to help pay for her health insurance under the new federal law. But in the process of signing up for a plan, Close said her HealthCare.gov account showed several different

    July 25, 2014

  • Hoopeston man faces charges HOOPESTON — A Vermilion County man was arrested Wednesday after trying to set fire to his home with people inside.Josh Ferguson, 23, of Hoopeston, was taken into custody late Wednesday morning by Hoopeston police. He was booked at the Public Safety B

    July 25, 2014

E-edition
Spring 2014 Photos


Buy these photos and more via Smugmug

AP Video
Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites Anti-violence Advocate Killed, but Not Silenced. Dempsey: Putin May Light Fire and Lose Control Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman
NDN Video
What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad
Must Read