Saturday, January 31, 2015

Time For Plan B

Move the nation's capitol to Fargo, North Dakota

In today's Post, the President is now on record as requiring all federal projects to check off the box "Did this project consider the possible effects of sea level rise?"

In major shift, Obama administration will plan for rising seas in all federal projects
President Obama issued an executive order Friday directing federal agencies to adopt stricter building and siting standards to reflect scientific projections that future flooding will be more frequent and intense due to climate change.

The order represents a major shift for the federal government: while the Federal Emergency Management Administration published a memo three years ago saying it would take global warming into account when preparing for more severe storms, most agencies continue to rely on historic data rather than future projections for building projects.

The new standard gives agencies three options for establishing the flood elevation and hazard area they use in siting, design and construction of federal projects. They can use data and methods “informed by best-available, actionable climate science”; build two feet above the 100-year flood elevation for standard projects and three feet above for critical buildings such as hospitals and evacuation centers; or build to the 500-year flood elevation.
Washington D.C. was all well and good as a temporary capitol for the young nation stretched along the Atlantic seaboard. Built largely on low lying land between two tidal rivers, much of it wetlands where such building would not be permitted today, the founders could not know that it was doomed in the future by the rising seas from the melting glaciers at the end of the last glacial period.

Oh my gosh, 3.16 mm per year, or even as much as 3.51 if you throw in the upper confidence level for good measure. At that rate, I calculate that the rising seas will cover the tippy top of the Washington Monument (555 ft, to which I have generously added 20 ft for the huge hill the monument sits on) in only 49,931.62 years. (It very important to use a lot of significant digits if you wish to convince someone that your calculations mean something) We must take this threat seriously, and start considering a new location for the capitol, one far from the rising ocean, and much further north, to avoid the prospect that the weather could become as bad as say, South Carolina's or Georgia's.

Many years ago my father made a suggestion to fix the capitol's East Coast bias by moving it somewhere closer to the geographic center of the country, to Fargo, North Dakota.  The actual geographic center of the United States is located near Belle Fourche, South Dakota, close enough.  But it would also serve to stave off the effects of rising seas, because at an official elevation of 904 ft it will not be inundated by the rising seas for almost 79,000 years.

Moreover, it's climate is, to say the least, in need of some warming:
Because of its location in the Great Plains and its distance from both mountains and oceans, Fargo has a humid continental climate, and is located in USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 4.The city features long, cold, windy, and snowy winters, with lows falling to or below 0 °F (−17.8 °C) 43 nights per year, and sometimes falling to −20 °F (−28.9 °C). Snowfall averages 52 inches (132 cm) per season. Spring and autumn are short and highly variable seasons. Summers are warm with frequent thunderstorms, and highs reach 90 °F (32 °C) on an average of 12.7 days each year. Annual precipitation of 22.7 inches (577 mm) is concentrated in the warmer months. Extreme temperatures have ranged from −48 °F (−44 °C) on January 8, 1887 to 114 °F (46 °C) on July 6, 1936.

In 2011, Fargo won The Weather Channel’s “America's Toughest Weather City” poll. Almost 850,000 votes, blizzards, cold, and floods were used to determine Fargo as the “Toughest Weather City” in 2011.
At least the summer thunderstorms will remind the transfers from D.C. of their native clime. They will, however,  have to learn to deal with cold and snow, or the city will be shut down a lot more than it is at present. Not that it's necessarily a bad thing.

With due apologies to Fargo, it think it's not too soon to being preparing for the move. It's too bad we didn't take advantage of the 2011 Virginia earthquake's loosening of the stones of the Washington Monument as well as other local landmarks as an opportunity to start the process of dismantling them, packing them onto freight trains and sending them to the north country.

Linked at Pirate's Cove in the weekly "Sorta Blogless Sunday Patriotic Pinup." Thanks Teach!


  1. To measure if the "sea level is rising" you would not measure the encroachment on a single shore line. Is the volume of water in the ocean changing? Are the patterns of global water movement variable? Why is it that geologists who understand how land masses have evolved over time are not beating the snot out of these warmists?

    1. There is similar data to the Washington data above all over the United States, although the length of the record varies. In no cases does it show an acceleration of sea level rise, although the rate of rise is different, mostly dependent on the rate of land uplift or settling. Water does not pile up in one place very long.

      Yes the volume of the oceans increase as glacier melt, and people pump water out of the ground and into the rivers (running it through their yards and kidneys first), so until the glaciers start to grow again for the next major glaciation, the likely trend is rising seas.

      The cure is worse than the disease.