Mapping littoral urbanism

Over at Data Pointed Stephen Von Worley’s mapped the vulnerability of major U.S. cities to climate change and sea level rise. He did this by combining 2010 Census and USGS data to show where people live and the height of the land underneath them.

For NYC and nine other coastal metros, including Boston (image below), Miami, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

sea_level_boston

credit: Stephen Von Worley

As many as half a billion trees!

“In 2011, Texas experienced an exceptional drought, prolonged high winds, and record-setting temperatures,” Forest Service Sustainable Forestry chief Burl Carraway told Reuters on Tuesday. “Together, those conditions took a severe toll on trees across the state.”

He said that between 100 million and 500 million trees were lost. That figure does not include trees killed in wildfires that have scorched an estimated 4 million acres in Texas since the beginning of 2011.

As Bruce Sterling noted “These guys who burble stuff like “Mother Nature is amazingly resilient” are part of the problem. Mother Nature wasn’t resilient enough to defend her trees from this climate crisis.” When you talk of landscape scale changes of this magnitude, it seems as if articulating any response becomes difficult. Certainly any sort of designed intervention. What would one propose in response? I would suggest that we should explore the possibilities of post-successionary landscapes, considering that a generation has been removed from the local ecological. Are sequential, ecological processes of the sort suggested by the term successionary able to address problems of this magnitude quickly or effectively enough? What is the time scale for an appropriate response?

Finally, a note on resilience. In contrast to Bruce’s comment re: climate change and ecological resilience, I will note that that Texas Forest Service Sustainable Forestry chief, Burl Carraway is quoted in the above linked article, as suggesting that the problem doesn’t require a (human designed) response. Carraway in fact argues that what Mother Nature has damaged, Mother Nature can repair. Though his line of reasoning isn’t all that reassuring as it is predicated on an assumption, which may be proved false, “Assuming the rainfall levels get back to normal“…..