Building a Trumpian Sea Wall
Trump’s attacks on greenhouse gas regulations will be a major contributor to global warming for the foreseeable future. This includes stopping improvements in CAFE cleaner car standards. The EPA is halving the rate of methane leak inspections to save the industry about $400 million a year. Methane is about 80 times a more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2, on a short term. Yet last year’s hurricanes cost a huge $340 billion dollars, and hurricane Florence may cost up to $170 billion. An amazing differential over methane savings of order 1,000. Since natural gas is now competing with renewables, and methane leaks are considered a main problem for them, why is the industry backing this?
Among the civilization challenging consequences will be sea level rise, from melting glaciers, melting Greenland and Antarctica ice packs, and heat expansion of the oceans. Also, increased sea surface temperatures could lead to stronger and larger hurricanes. The warmer atmosphere leads to greater moisture and rain content, and a warmer North Atlantic creates a high that is blocking Florence from turning Northward.
Update: A Stony Brook and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab study says that climate change has enhanced hurricane Florence’s rainfall by 50%, and extended its width by 50 miles.
Much more coastal property will have to be protected from storm surge. Instead of leaving it to local projects to protect the coast, we examine a Trumpian wall approach, to build one wall along as much of the coast as possible or needed. (Excuse me, I just caught my tongue in my cheek.)
The money for this project could some day be readily available by diverting funds from Trump’s border wall, to the sea wall.
ICE and the armed forces have finished testing the test border walls near San Diego, and determined that 30 foot border walls are needed. Eventually, 2,000 miles will be covered.
While storm surge of up to 20 feet is being warned about from hurricane Florence, most of the impinged coast will probably be under less than a 10 foot storm surge. Taking 10 feet as the nominal sea wall height, the funds for a 2,000 mile wall at 30 feet should cover 6,000 miles of a 10 foot storm surge wall. This is because a large cost of the wall will be for the steel and concrete that goes into it.
What is being requested currently is $18 billion for a 1,000 mile wall completion, so the total cost would be expected to be $36 billion.
Twenty-three states have ocean coastal property, so there would be strong bipartisan Senatorial support for the sea wall. Also, beachfront communities contain a lot of wealth, so they also have many Republican representatives, making for bipartisan House support.
The Trump border wall would no longer be needed, since much Mexican, Central American and South American labor would be needed to build the long sea wall. They have also been useful in rebuilding flooded communities.
Trump would be much more celebrated for the needed sea wall, guarding many of our most popular communities, than for a border wall in an empty desert.
But how long is the coastline?, you ask. The lowest figure is 12,479 miles, according to NOAA, as listed in Wikipedia. It gets much longer if you take into account smaller details, but this figure could be nearly correct for a smooth, long range sea wall. These are ocean coastlines, and do not include the Great Lakes states.
Much of the coast does not have to be protected, since it is not covered by habitation, as in Alaska. Also, much of the coast is not expecting hurricanes. So 6,000 miles should protect the endangered part of the US coast from most hurricanes and storm surge.
California’s long coastline is 840 miles. Florida’s is 1,350 miles. Alaska’s is 6,640 miles. But, by the end of the century, much of Florida will be under water, so we can drop most of that, and much of the Alaskan coast is unoccupied. That brings the effective coastline down to about 6,000 miles.
It is true that much of the coast is already protected by natural cliffs. Yet many cliffs are topped by the most expensive estates. It is still to be decided by society if these lucky few deserve protections by society, or should pay for their own environmental extravagance by themselves.
To sell this to Trump, we of course have to put a golden plaque on the wall at each major community, at a spot where he or tourists can pose for a scenic photo shoot. The plaque should of course have Donald J. Trump in the largest lettering, and also a phrase like “the longest and greatest wall ever”.