Reuters environment correspondent Alister Doyle reports:
A creeping rise in sea levels tied to global warming, pollution and damage to coral reefs may make coastlines even more vulnerable to disasters like tsunamis or storms in future, experts said Monday.
Cheer up, experts! The quake that caused these tsunamis may actually combat increased sea levels:
Stuart Sipkin, of the USGS National Earthquake Information Centre in Golden Colorado, said it was more likely that the islands off Sumatra had risen higher out of the sea than they had moved laterally.
“In this case, the Indian plate dived below the Burma plate, causing uplift, so most of the motion to the islands would have been vertical, not horizontal.”
So now they’re safe from global warming. Which must be a great comfort.
UPDATE. Jeff McNeely, chief scientist of the Swiss-based World Conservation Union, blames shrimp eating and other destructive ‘human activities” for the tsunami toll:
“What has made this a disaster is that people have started to occupy part of the landscape that they shouldn’t have occupied,” he told AFP in a telephone interview from Paris.
“What has also happened over the last several decades is that many mangroves have been cleared to grow shrimp ponds so that we, here in Europe, can have cheap shrimp,” he added.
The shrimps and prawns are sold to Europeans and other foreigners “at a price that does not include the environmental cost which is being paid today,” McNeely said.
Thousands of dead people is not an “environmental cost”, Mr Science Guy. In fact, the environment came out of this relatively unscathed, as McNeely admits:
On the other hand, Sunday’s quake would not have been a disaster for local wildlife still left in the affected areas, he added.
“Those living along the coast are seldom particularly rare, that’s not a rare habitat, the mangroves are not particularly rich in species, the species that live there are used to typhoons, to storms and all that.
“Animals are smart enough to move.”
McNeely isn’t smart enough to shut up. Via Donnah.
UPDATE II. Iowahawk has breaking scientific news:
Washington, DC – Pointing to the devastating weekend Indian Ocean tsunami that left over 24,000 dead, a international blue ribbon committee of climatologists and ecoscientists today issued a stark warning that man-made pollutants have increasingly “make water spirits angry.”
The blunt conclusion prefaced a 2300 page meta-analysis of hundreds of scientific studies and computer models detailing links between human industrial activity and wrathful eco-deities. Entitled “Fire Bad: Fire Very Bad,” the report warns that the planet faces additional catastrophies unless drastic regulatory action is taken to appease Earthen-furies.
“Unclean money devils anger sacred water spirit Tai-Waku,” explained Martin Knudson of Scripps Oceanic Institute. “He now call angry to son the whale, ‘make slap with anger-tails! Bring vengeance-surf to villagers!’”