So it was hard to read this...
Last summer, James Hansen—the pioneer of modern climate science—pieced together a research-based revelation: a little-known feedback cycle between the oceans and massive ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland might have already jump-started an exponential surge of sea levels. That would mean huge levels of sea level rise will happen sooner—much sooner than expected. Hansen’s best estimate was 2 to 5 meters (6–15 feet) by the end of the century: five to 10 times faster than mainstream science has heretofore predicted.... That’s bad news for those of us rooting for a stable planet. With Hansen’s paper now through peer review, its dire conclusions are difficult to ignore.
...without thinking about this:
The slow crawl of Bertha, the tunneling machine making its way below Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct, hasn’t been without its share of frustrating setbacks. But when there is a glimpse at signs of progress, it’s easy to be impressed by the feat of engineering.... On March 14, Bertha reached a planned maintenance stop near Yesler Way, according to WSDOT. Workers will spend up to a month inspecting the machine and performing planned maintenance, including inspecting the cutterhead and replacing cutting tools, among other things. After the work is completed, the machine will move beneath the Alaskan Way Viaduct, forcing a closure of the elevated roadway for approximately two weeks.
Even if Bertha somehow manages to get the job done (hopefully without collapsing too much of the viaduct or toppling too many buildings along the way), even if this unnecessary and obscenely expensive tunnel should open to cars one day, it won't be long before the tunnel fills with seawater.... thanks, in large part, to the cars moving through the tunnel and the kind of political paralysis and political cowardice that lead to the tunnel's construction in the first place. The inability of of political leaders—environmentalists, one and all—to stop building for cars and stop pandering to entitled, shortsighted car-huggers and the editorial boards that love them gave us the tunnel—a tunnel that is 100 feet below sea level at its deepest point—and rising sea levels are going to take that same tunnel away.
But, hey, it'll make a really cool scuba diving spot.
UPDATE: The NYT has more on Hansen's conclusions...
The nations of the world agreed years ago to try to limit global warming to a level they hoped would prove somewhat tolerable. But leading climate scientists warned on Tuesday that permitting a warming of that magnitude would actually be quite dangerous. The likely consequences would include killer storms stronger than any in modern times, the disintegration of large parts of the polar ice sheets and a rise of the sea sufficient to begin drowning the world’s coastal cities before the end of this century, the scientists declared.... Climate scientists agree that humanity is about to cause an equal or greater rise in sea level, but they have tended to assume that such a large increase would take centuries, at least. The new paper argues that it could happen far more rapidly, with the worst case being several feet of sea-level rise over the next 50 years, followed by increases so precipitous that they would force humanity to beat a hasty retreat from the coasts. “That would mean loss of all coastal cities, most of the world’s large cities and all their history,” Dr. Hansen said in a video statement that accompanied the new paper.