Sounding the alarm about climate change has long been an uphill battle because its effects can seem remote or too far in the future. Even if the planet is warming, skeptics say, how do we know that human activity is the cause and why should we care?
Every year, though, comes more concrete evidence of why we should care as the very real costs of climate change start to kick in.
The latest example is Louisiana’s Highway 1. This vital transportation artery connects critical oil and gas resources from offshore Gulf oil platforms and drilling rigs to the rest of the nation. It is also slowly being submerged due to rising sea levels. In 1991, the road was 3.9 feet above sea level. Since that time, it has sunk more than a foot, two inches of which were in the past 16 months alone. At the current rate of sea-level rise, the road will be under water roughly 22 days of the year by 2030. And, it’s not just rising sea levels that will hinder road access. A warming and expanding ocean will result in heavier rainfall in short bursts that will also batter the highway.
While 22 days of submersion by 2030 may seem far off, the highway is an essential part of the energy infrastructure and estimates show that if it is shut down for a 90-day period, it could cost over $7 billion in lost gross domestic product because neighboring ports could replace only 25 percent of the lost services and at a higher cost. The point is to act before it is submerged, not wait for it to happen and then figure out what to do.