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    Posted October 14, 2012 by
    McKinney, Texas
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Election 2012: Your stories

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    Ignoring the Biggest Future Problem - How the most important issue of the 21st Century isn’t being talked about by Politicians

    According to an article this spring in the New York Times, “about 3.7 million Americans live within a few feet of high tide…”. I’m not going to check their numbers, but you can bet that at least that many people live near the high tide level along the US Gulf Coast, maybe at least that many in and around New Orleans itself. Don’t forget that a big portion of that city is actually below sea level. About 600 miles of that Gulf Coast is in Texas. Along the Texas Gulf Coast there are irreplaceable wild areas and large centers of commerce and population. It represents a vast resource for the State. This resource is in danger of being irrevocably damaged and there is very little discussion of that by either National or Texas politicians.

    The flat, hot and humid Texas Gulf Coast may not fit everybody’s idea of an aesthetically pleasing coast. These are no visions of white sand beaches and gently waving palm trees, but I can tell you this coast is critical to the Texas economy. The Houston Ship Channel and the nest of refiners around Corpus Christi Bay may not be considered environmentally attractive, but if you are in the oil and gas industry, as many Texans are, you may find them pretty in an economic sort of way. Those refineries provide some of Texas’ most important exports and jobs for thousands of Texans. The salt marshes, bays and barrier islands are the breeding grounds for aquatic life that supports Texas’ commercial and sport fisheries. It has been estimated that maybe 75% of North America’s migratory waterfowl winter among these marshes, bays and barrier islands which also protect the low-lying settlements along the coast.

    The gradual sinking of the Texas Gulf Coast due to erosion and subsidence has been studied for decades. Studies by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and in Texas by the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas have shown that coastline which should naturally be growing is in fact shrinking due to ground water extraction, river channelization, construction, and other human actions. You have to add to that the rise in worldwide sea levels from the release of stored water from ice melt due to a warming climate caused by human produced greenhouse gasses. When you put these together you get the sea level rise along the Texas Gulf Coast as being very significant, a sea level rise that is increasing faster every year. Some studies estimate that it could be as much as 1 foot by 2030. Hundreds of square miles of land along the coast will be inundated by this rise in sea level. Unusually high tides and storm surges will make for frequent coastal flooding with major environmental and economic impact.

    I haven’t heard a word in a single political debate during the election cycle about this. Not a one. Politically the problem is that not only are there few champions for reversing human environmental damage, but there are several notable Congressmen on important science and environmental committees who actively proclaim that science is a big conspiracy against religion. They have their counterparts in the Texas Legislature.

    When the entire city of Houston may be subject to regularly flooding, when most low-lying coastal areas along the Texas Gulf Coast are in danger of constant flooding, when we may have to build dikes to protect the San Jacinto Monument, then I think we have an important issue. I think that we have an issue that Texas voters should be concerned about. I think we have an issue that politicians, and particularly those purporting to represent the interests of the citizens of Texas should be addressing.

    “Rising Sea Levels Seen as Threat to Coastal U.S.”, Justin Gillis, Published: March 13, 2012, New York Times,

    “Fair Warning, Global Warming and the Lone Star State”, Ramon Alvarez, Ph.D., Mary Sanger, Colin Rowan, Lisa Moore, Ph.D., May, 2006, Environmental Defense,

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