Louisiana industry causes rising Gulf Coast sea levels?

How consequential is 0.009 millimeters per year?

In the Rolling Stone blog post “Why Budget Cuts and Global Warming Don’t Mix,” Jared Bernstein writes:

… According to the Associated Press, “Louisiana has lost about 2,100 square miles of coast and loses about 25 square miles a year. Experts warn that much of south Louisiana and Mississippi are at risk of being lost for good.” Additionally, “32 scientists – including many working on the state’s coastal restoration efforts – told Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal that there’s a direct link between the rising sea levels eroding the state’s coastline and greenhouse gases produced by the state’s industries”…

Assuming for the sake of argument that there is a link between manmade greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and the much-dreaded global warming, Louisiana industry emitted about 131 million tons of GHGs in 2010, according to the EPA. This amounts to about 0.44% of global manmade greenhouse gas emissions.

Florida State’s Joseph Donoghue reported earlier this year in the journal Climatic Change that:

… The [northern Gulf of Mexico] tide gauge record reveals that sea level has been rising at about 2 mm/year for the past century, while the average rate of rise since the [last glacial maximum] has been 6 mm/year, with some periods of abrupt rise exceeding 40 mm/year…

So overlooking the portion of sea-level rise that’s due to sinking land, about 0.009mm/yr (2mm/yr x 0.0044) of Louisiana’s sea level rise could be attributed to the state’s industrial emissions.

3 thoughts on “Louisiana industry causes rising Gulf Coast sea levels?”

  1. Can instruments actually detect 0.009 millimeters per year? Surely the margin for error must be vastly greater than that, yielding vastly more noise than signal.

  2. I recall seeing a sign on Canal St near the Riverwalk that indicates “Mean Sea Level” as being about 7-8 feet above the street. The ground has subsided a lot in just 200 years -much more than the sea level has risen.

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