The Associated Press has a global warming story out this morning that I, as a layman, find both hard to believe and interesting in its implications. According to science reporter Seth Borenstein, sea level rise is coming and there’s nothing we can do about it:

Ultimately, rising seas will likely swamp the first American settlement in Jamestown, Va., as well as the Florida launch pad that sent the first American into orbit, many climate scientists are predicting.

In about a century, some of the places that make America what it is may be slowly erased.

Global warming — through a combination of melting glaciers, disappearing ice sheets and warmer waters expanding — is expected to cause oceans to rise by one meter, or about 39 inches. It will happen regardless of any future actions to curb greenhouse gases, several leading scientists say. And it will reshape the nation.

Interesting item number 1: The 39 inches mentioned here is significantly larger than the 7-23 inches projected by the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which even in a worst case scenario only went to thirty. So while we don’t have hysteria in the Al Gore range (17-23 feet), it still sounds like someone is going overboard. Interesting item number 2: They say there’s nothing we can do about it, that regardless of what we do about greenhouse gases, it’s going to happen anyway. That sounds for all the world like a natural change in planetary atmosphere, rather than something caused by humans. Interesting item number 3: The article never points that out. Hmmm.

Few of the more than two dozen climate experts interviewed disagree with the one-meter projection. Some believe it could happen in 50 years, others say 100, and still others say 150.

Sea level rise is “the thing that I’m most concerned about as a scientist,” says Benjamin Santer, a climate physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

“We’re going to get a meter and there’s nothing we can do about it,” said University of Victoria climatologist Andrew Weaver, a lead author of the February report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in Paris. “It’s going to happen no matter what — the question is when.”

If this is accurate–a big if–then Americans will have some serious questions to ask about various low lying areas that may not be habitable, as well as historic spots that we may not be able to protect. But according to maps produced by the University of Arizona, one of those areas is supposed to be the San Joaquin Valley in California. Take a look at this and see if it makes sense:

Look closely at the map in the lower left corner. It shows San Joaquin County, including the city of Stockton–more than 60 miles inland–being “effected” (whatever that means) by sea level rise, whereas San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and most of the rest of the Bay area–much of which is at sea level–won’t be. Does that make sense?

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