13.3.12

What if Paris floods from climate change?

Since Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth came out a few years ago, people in the United States have idly entertained the idea that Miami or New Orleans could flood. In worst-case scenarios, New York City could be submerged - a story made morbidly fascinating in Alan Weisman's The World Without Us. But in the world of history and culture, few cities hold water (no pun intended) like Paris.

What if it floods from climate change? This is a scenario eerily represented in this video.



As TreeHugger notes:
More than 100 miles from the Atlantic, Paris is safe from rising sea levels for the foreseeable future, but coastal cities around the world aren't as lucky. The entire population of the nation of Kiribati, in the Maldives, is relocating to Fiji as its 32 islands disappear under the water. They are not the first rising-sea refugees, either.

To put the video's version of Paris in perspective, the best case scenario for this century is a 50cm rise in global sea levels. New reports show things will likely be worse.

Rising seas not only make coastal areas uninhabitable, they compromise drinking water supplies. The use of Paris, the famously beautiful city, as the potential victim could bring attention to a climate issue that is largely ignored.
Where would the art go? Berlin? Basel? Vienna? I have to admit a certain fascination and interest in such a problem. What kind of transition of culture would have to occur? I'm envisaging a modern version of the Irish monks of the medieval period who preserved so much in their cloistered corner of the world while Europe's powers plundered one another. Imagine the contingencies for the Mona Lisa. What about what's in New York's Museum of Modern Art? What future scenarios will there be besides A World Without Us or John Carpenter's campy Escape from New York?

A lot of people will argue New York is safe for a long time. And they may be right. The pumps that free the subways (and all of the island from the daily deluge of water that made the island a meadowland) run, more than likely, on coal. Coal, left unchecked, will power our machines for a long time. Maybe nuclear power fuels them. Maybe it will more. Maybe tidal will one day do it. But if its coal, and coal is left unchecked, that means an escalation of climate change. A real double bind. And one that makes for great apocalyptic story telling. I'm not saying the stories will necessarily or really won't happen. I don't know.

Right now, they're just stories. But each day with more coal dumping millions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, the more traction the doom scenarios will get more traction and the more the Mad Max fans will say that thunderdome is on its way. Others will watch this video and think, there must be a different way to do things so that doesn't happen.

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