GALVESTON — If air pollution is not controlled, Galveston could be one of the first cities in the United States to go underwater, according to a new study released by a nonprofit climate science research group.

In a paper published Thursday in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, researcher Benjamin Strauss concludes that carbon pollution to date has already “locked in” a 4-foot rise over current sea levels. Those numbers could increase to 23 feet of sea level rise if global climate emissions continue to increase, Strauss writes.

What is unclear is how long it would be until such a rise occurred, but it would take hundreds of years.

“Middle-of-the-road projections point to (sea level rise) rates in the vicinity of 5 feet per century by 2100,” Strauss writes in an analysis of the piece of the journal study on the Climate Central website.

Such rates would be fast enough to “threaten the heritage, and very existence, of coastal communities everywhere.”

Even a 4-foot rise in sea levels is enough to submerge more than half the population of 316 coastal towns and cities in the United States, according to the study.

An interactive tool on Climate Central’s website, which illustrates which cities around the country are threatened by rising water, indicates that 18 Texas cities are already locked into losing 25 percent of their currently populated land sometime in the future.

Among those 18 cities are Bayou Vista, Bolivar Peninsula, Galveston, Jamaica Beach and Tiki Island.

If current trends continue, Galveston could be locked in to losing 50 percent of its land by 2040 and 100 percent of its land by 2050.

Strauss writes that it would take a massive program to remove carbon from the atmosphere and a halt and reduction to global emissions, to substantially reduce the chance of higher impacts by the end of the 21st century.

Contact reporter John Wayne Ferguson at 409-683-5226 or

(38) comments

Don Ciaccio

What a huge pile of crap. I can't believe this paper would even publish this trash. Follow the money. It will lead you right back to a bunch of scientists looking to earn a living by making up man made climate change. Hogwash. But....say it enough times and the American people will believe you.

Gary Scoggin

Don233 -- it isn't about the money. Climate change due to man's activities is happening. I think we can debate the amount of change that happens - and I have trouble buying into extreme predictions -- but there's no real scientific debate that it is happening.

Josh Butler

What a bunch of hogwash. I agree with Don.

Steve Fouga

Are there still people who don't believe the climate is changing? C'mon, guys! I've watched it with my own eyes and felt it on my skin. I've read the journals. It's different from when I was a child, or even a young man.

It's hilariously funny to think that the money made by honest scientists is even a fraction of that spent by energy companies lobbying for the right to pollute. You guys crack me up!


George Croix

As I look wistfully at the big, puffy, expensive down parka I bought in '74 to prepare for the mini-ice age we are supposed to be in right now, based on the scientific opinion(s) back then of the effects of man-caused carbon dioxide COOLING the planet, I am reminded of the words of Professor C. Little:
The Sky is Falling. The Sky is Falling!!
Helluva attention getter, especially when there are books to be sold and millions made selling 'carbon credits'.
I re-read the article, and saw nothing in there about subsidence in this county caused by removal of groundwater. Remember that? Very real, and quite dramatic. Local industries and communities were forced to largely if not completely stop pumping water up lest the ground keep heading down.
Probably an oversight.
Those early '70's. That was a time at the end of about a 30 year COOLING trend in the world. Despite an ever increasing industrial base and availability of automobiles, and the dramatic impacts of WWII.
Seems counter-intuitive to current narrative. Further fogging the lens is that from the early 1900's to the '40's, global temps went up, this despite a relative lack of industry and power plants and SUV's and aerosols compared to today. Another oddity.
Before we decide to wreck the US economy courtsey of the EPA and executive orders, and in so doing do little if anything to effect global conditions, we shoudl atke a long, hard look at who's in clas with Prof. Little.
Unless one really thinks China, India, Russia, et al, will also start limiting emissions and start selling 'credits' and trash their own growing/rebounding economies, then we are being played for suckers.
Ask why that might be?

Steve Fouga

Ok, why?

Gary Miller

Without global warming Chicago would still be under a mile deep Glacier. Manhatin Island wouldn't be a glacial moraine yet. The glacier that created it would still be scraping the solid rock off Central park.
Rain forests would still be grass lands and deserts would still cover half the land mass of the world.
Sea levels started falling in 1998 but "Global Warming Scientists (?)" still cry doom.
Crying doom is profitable. Al Gore became a multi millionair crying doom.
The EPA calls CO2 a polutant but without CO2 earth would be as dead as Mars.

Steve Fouga

Silly arguments, IHOG. What counts is now, not the last ice age.

Useful to see what happened in the past, though. And it could be that no matter what WE do, the earth's gonna do what it's gonna do. But maybe not. Maybe we can influence climate change, and if we can, shouldn't we influence it to our advantage?

Andy Aycoth

So business' in Galveston need to start leaving the island now! Hard to operate a business when it is underwater. If this article is correct then home values will tank in the near future .

Jarvis Buckley

Did Orsen Wells write this article?

shelley bishop

One giant volcano eruption and we would be headed back to another ice age. The earth has gone through cycles for eons and we are part of that cycle. So we will just have to deal with it. All the environmental whining about global warming will get us nowhere but hurting americans. We can't even stop Mexicans from sneaking accross the border. Do you think we could convince them and the rest of the world to stop polluting. Have you seen those hazy smoke filled days here when they were burning crops and there was nothing we could do about it but complain to each other.

Steve Fouga

Naysayers: If you KNEW we were adversely impacting the climate, and you KNEW something could be done to stop it, would you want to do it?

Carlos Ponce

More scare tactics designed to get taxpayers to pay for research that will never pan out. If Al Gore really believed in what he is spewing then why did he buy ocean front property?

George Croix

Of course.
The rub is who to listen to, and what one considers 'doing something about it'. And, it helps to have some real thing to point to besides speculation, and cherry-picked 'facts'.
That big puffy parka was a result of listening to scientific evidence 40 years ago that was 180 degrees away from that proferred now, yet the supposed bad actor influencing the projected outcome was the SAME thing. If increasing CO2 WILL cause the earth to go T's up, then why, though CO2 in the atmosphere has increased for the last 15 years, have global temperatures on avergage NOT done so?
Why do hucksters like Gore have to write books and make movies largely fictional to get people to buy the book and into his desire to increase his own wealth, if there is demonstrable, tangible, undeniable we can go touch it proof. Did so many REALLY fall for those photos of the glaciers calving as 'proof of global warming'? If so, I'd have to say that the opposite of 'naysayer' just might be 'sucker'.
What will accomplish NOTHING is to wreck the only economy where anyone is even remotely interested one way or the other, and would be in a position to lead the way to make any possible, beneficial, non-suicidal personally or economically changes.
Kyoto is a shell game. The proponents yammering for US ratification and compliance have NO intention themselves of doing so, and/or are in no position or capable of doing anything anyway. Many would LOVE to see the US wreck itself.
The Chinese, India, and other foreign growing economies are building power plants and building industries as fast as they can, may powered by COAL. Now, often OUR coal, as exports have increased due to the Administrations two-faced regulating of it in this country due to 'climate change concerns'.
How hard is it to figure out that filling in a hole a shovel at a time is a zero sum game when the other guy in the hole is tossing ithe dirt back out as fast or faster than it's going in?
We can't even get what passes for a President to approve a pipeline that will help supply fuel that we CANNOT SURVIVE AS A NATION WITHOUT. That alone shows remarkably ideological bad judgement. Add the trashing or dimunition of the national power grid, the certain result of the 'war on US coal, and it becomes easier to see where the actual 'naysayers' are. Saying nay to prosperity.
There ain't no money for scientific research if everybody is broke.

love my island

The usual tea party crowds that has no life but these comment pages won't be alive in 10 years, much less 2050....hence they could careless

George Croix

I don't belong to the Tea Party.
What Party do you belong to?
I don't want to make an ass of myself by assuming what it is, although it doesn't discourage anyone else who might want to.

love my island

10 post on the GDN in 24 hours. Thats just sad, and I'm sure just as many on numerous other news site. I hope my life never boils down to that. Go out a get some fresh air, attend a tea party rally or SOMETHING!

Robert Morris

And yet you are hre posting. Now THAT is sad.

Gary Miller

Jake. What has happens before maters because it can happen again. The last ice age wasn't the first ice age. It was actually milder than some earlier Ice ages. They are part of an endless cycle of Earths history.
I too have experienced "climate Change". I remember the hot as hell summers in the 40's and winters so cold Galveston bay froze when Al gore was predicting a new Ice age.
Actually I think recent climate changes are an improvement on what we had.
It's helped world food production increase faster than population.
Climate changes all the time and no amount of blaming someone or something will have any effect on the rate of change. Feel free to do anything you want but don't expect inteligent people to agree to do it too.

Paul Hyatt

Where is the "proof" that the oceans are rising???? Where is the "proof" that they will start rising????

Gary Scoggin

For the trend in Average Global Temperature, Sea Level Rise and North American Snow Cover, go to

It's written by the IPCC which is considered to be the authoritative body on Climate Change. Now, you naysayers can poo-poo them all you want, but this is the data set that many companies around the world -- including most large oil companies -- are using for their planning. This includes Exxon by the way,

Facts are pesky things.

George Croix

"The IPCC is a scientific body under the auspices of the United Nations (UN). It reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change. It does not conduct any research nor does it monitor climate related data or parameters. Thousands of scientists from all over the world contribute to the work of the IPCC on a voluntary basis."

I see a few things of interest here:
First, the United Nations is behind it. Actually, considering that body's record of objectivity, accuracy, and success, that alone should be enough, or at least set the claxons to claxoning. Figure in the fact that those fine folks think the US should pony up a 'disproportionate' amount of funds to fund all of their initiatives, and, there might be some room for suspicion. Or, naysaying, if preferred.
Second, the description says 'socio-economic' assessments are mixed with scientific and technical. the global climate future any different for the poor than the wealthy? Or, is this, like other UN doings, a way to stick it to the US. Again.
Third, it doesn't conduct any research or monitor any data. Just assesses. That's what food critics do - they don't do the cooking, they just inject their own opinons and prejudices into commenting on whether the food tastes THEM.
Fourth, thousands of voluntary contributors. If EVER there was a wide open opportunity for photos of glaciers calving and polar bears standing on small ice flows to 'prove' a point, this is it. It's like getting 'all the facts' by reading the GDN forums.
40 years ago, Exxon would have been planing to retro-fit all their ships with icebreaker bows by now, based on assessments by scientists of the same compounds' atmospheric accumulation as today. Everybody plans. Anybody who's ever tried to follow a plan with an indefinite beginning and uncertain duration and unknown outside influences knows what usually happens.
You want to know what's really going to happen?
Be there when it does. The only 100% method.
Still unanswered, even by the IPCC, is why, as CO2 levels in the upper atmosphere have increased in the last decade and a half, average global temps have not. Is this one of those have your cake and eat it, too, issues? Blame carbon dioxide for 'global warming', except go mute and stonewall when it doesn't correlate?
That would be item Five of concern.
Still waiting on that reply about subsidence caused by groundwater removal for decades in this County - quite dramatic. Was that figured in as part of 'sea level rise' effect in the story? It doesn't say, and, nobody's rushing to claim that the charts are correct, and only take sea level rise and not land sinking due to other factor(s) into consideration.
"Eat your beets and asparagus, Little Johnny. They're good for you. Because Mommy says so."
A word here. A carbon credit there...
Carbon credits! Now THERE"S item number Six to make anyone wonde...oh, save that for when the discussion turns to absurdities, slight of hand, and how to milk the gullible for all they're worth...
Or, hasn't it already?
So confusing...

Steve Fouga

I'll probably reply to this post later, gecroix. But for now, why are you bringing up subsidence? What does that have to do with the potential for sea-level rise?

Gary Scoggin

I'm not sure where the temperature not rising thing come from but this graph says otherwise.

Just because the IPCC is sponsored by the UN doesn't automatically make everything they do wrong. Their work is made up of science done by Universities all over the world. (BTW, as a scientist you don't get fame and notoriety by running with the pack. You get it by proving the pack wrong. So the incentive is to be a rebel.)

I go back to the fact that many companies around the world accept the IPCC panel findings. A lot of these companies have a lot of smart folks on their own payroll that are paid to examine these things. And a lot of companies are spending money in anticipation of the changes that they think will be necessary. But then since they don't tell us what we want to hear, they must be a bunch of dumb-@$$es, or worse, lackeys.

What is interesting is that in almost every country around the world takes climate change seriously except the US. But then only in the US do we make matters of science into matters of politics.

Matt Coulson

Science workers may get notoriety from going against the concecus,but they get their lifeblood, grant money, by following the lead of their sponsors. By the way who is going against the flow? Skeptics.

George Croix

It's a free forum. So far.
Subsidence may or may not have anything to do with this story. But, when someone wants to make a point about losing land to sea level rise to prove a trend, and during that trend period that land is known, not speculated, to have dropped in elevation significantly due to subsidence, I'd simply like to know if that subsidence amount is being claimed as more land lost to a rising sea level due to climate change.
Either way, it's under water, but the mechanism, or combination of mechanisms, matters as it pertains to claims made about the cause. One way, we sucked too much water out and land sank further into the sea, and the other, we got too much sea, and it covered the land because sea level went up, not land level went down.
It's a discussion point raised by a confirmed skeptic. Skepticism can only be remediated with enough accurate information.
That's all.

Steve Fouga

Ok. I think the reporter was simply quoting a more general study that had nothing to do with Galveston County. One would expect a fully informed "future flood map" of the type shown on their website to include all causes for flooding, but this one is almost certainly not that sophisticated -- in other words it probably understates the severity of the potential problem. Yes, the area is definitely sinking. The Island is moving towards the mainland too, as I understand it....

Back to your earlier post, glaciers calving, whether manmade or not, is bad news. So are glaciers melting. And polar cap ice melting. At least for the United States. A large percentage of our population, rich and poor, lives near the ocean. A bunch of our energy industry is there too. Sea-level rise is all bad news for the United States (if it happens). Russia and Canada, not so much. Both will suddenly be blessed with deepwater ports they never had before, ice-free year-round. The U.S. could swiftly become a second-rate economic power, or at least lose pre-eminence. It's in our best interests to at least understand the potential for sea-level rise, and its impacts.

George Croix

You may well be right. Until we get an answer about it, we can only speculate.
It's certainly not unusual for anyone, anyone at all, trying to make a point to do so both by commission and omission. And on purpose or by accident.
I fully agree it's in our best interests to get informed and, if possible, and IF needed, get prepared.
Factors like the normal cyclic nature of melting ocean ice as currents change, and the fact that a whole lot of current 'climate change' info and/or hoopla only has a genesis in the early 70's (the dawn of the coming mini-ice age, so we were told), and anything, anything at all, that the UN is involved in, all push my cynic button. Without 'climate change', we'd be up to our ask me about it's in primordial soup.
Then, we have the charlatans. Like the one who puts a photo of a polar bear on a small ice flow in his book (or was it the movie - I forget) and claims it's 'proof' of melting sea ice due to global warming taking away the polar bear's range. Then, later, the photographer himself fesses up that it was a snap of opportunity when a polar bear swimming along decided to climb onto that little berg. Or, the same guy selling us 'carbon credits', while jetting across country in an older private jet that causes more pollution in one trip than a whole fleet of V-8 SUV's would in a year.
No need to mention the 100 million bucks profit the same 'green man' made selling out to a Big Oil affiliate after P&M'g about for decades. Phony. Two faced.
Those glaciers calving. Seems to me that as long as that glacier is moving, which is what they do until the law of gravity is repealed or they are no longer snowed on and growing, they will calve as the leading edge(s) run out of ground to support them and are undercut by the water they've slowly run down into, and break off.
Proves nothing except the system works, unless there are other influences.
There may be, but once a person is played for a sucker, he's wise to be skeptical.
I might be more open to listening with more than one ear when we get an answer, a real one, for the last 15 years of increasing CO2 levels but no significant increase in global temps. That sure looks like an 'inconvenient truth' at this point for the, what shall we call them...'yeasayers'?
In the meantime, wiping out what's left of our economy, after the ACA get's through wrecking most of it, by panicky 'action' against 'climate change', when the rest of the world looks at us and laughs as THEY crank up the engines of commerce even more, with NO pollution controls, seems to me to be, well, stupid.

Steve Fouga

Seems like I remember this as fact (could be wrong since it's been awhile): It's possible to melt ice with little or no net temperature increase in the short term. The incoming energy is used in melting the ice, not raising the temperature. Temperature of ice, 32 degrees F. Temperature of ice water, 32 degrees F. If there's more energy available than required for melting the ice, then over the long haul one would expect the temp to go up.

Also, the global average is a convenient indicator, but what counts more is the temp where the ice is.

Finally, if the current trend is natural and not man made, wouldn't it still be a good idea to reverse it? We bend nature to our will all the time.

Gary Scoggin

GECroix -- you're right about the Charlatans (on both sides). They do nothing but distract from serious conversation. It's too reminiscent of the other environmental catastrophe predictions we've seen over the past several decades.

In the interest of full disclosure I'll say I am in the climate department of a major energy company. (I'll bet you can guess which one!) In that capacity I've had the chance to talk with a lot of experts and see a lot of data. As I said at the beginning, we can properly debate the pace and degree of warming but not the direction.

Here's some data about warming in recent years. This comes from NASA.

"Scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) say 2012 was the ninth warmest year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures. The ten warmest years in the 132-year record have all occurred since 1998. The last year that was cooler than average was 1976. "

Remember climate is a chaotic system so there may be significant variability year to year and the trends are what matter.

Don Ciaccio

The great news for Galveston, maybe the federal government and the Kempner family will stop wanting to build public housing on an island doomed to be under water in just a few decades.

Steve Fouga


The Kempner family? I didn't realize that...

I gleaned from the interactive map that my house will endure many decades of sea-level rise, standing proud when much of the Island is inundated, including all the current and proposed locations for public housing. Of course my descendants or whoever owns it won't be able to reach the house, because all the roads leading to it will be submerged...

George Croix

Jake Buckner, yes, that's quite true. A very localized event may not show much overall change. I was actually referring to atmospheric CO2 accumulations in that last one, not ice melt specifically. I did a poor job of communicating that. Sorry.

Gsscoggin, yes, I know who you are. I admit that the reciprocal may not be true, as I am an easily forgettable entity. After all, I only worked there for 36 years, and we only directly interacted a couple of times. smile
Your points are well made, and, to me, mostly valid. I'm no expert on climate, but made it out alive in no small part because of a questioning attitude, a large amount of natural skepticism, and taking action correctly, most of the time. I am aware of your excellent repuation in your job(s). Anyway, to me, those points will be greatly enhanced when someone steps up and explains why the temps for a decade and a half have essentially been 'on hold', as the stated main cause for global warming has increased in quantity. That is trying it use the same thing as both cause and effect. I understand trends, but that's not what Joe Public gets hit with when the polar bears get trotted out. It's a clamor about 'climate change' or 'global warming' now when EVERY negative event happens. Hurricane Sandy, tornado destruction in the Midwest, record winter cold across the nation, a melting Dairy Queen dip cone. ALL quickly attributed to man-made 'climate change' or 'global warming'.

"Remember climate is a chaotic system so there may be significant variability year to year and the trends are what matter."
Odd, isn't it. that also describes our mutually shared workplace!
smile twice

Steve Fouga

Yeah, after awhile it's numbing when EVERY disaster is blamed on warming.

With respect, I think you may be too focused on greenhouse gases and the global average temp. Greenhouse gases may not be the biggest culprit. It could be particulates or some other mechanism, or several mechanisms. Check this out; sorry that it's a news source and not a scholarly report:

Gary Scoggin

Gec -- How could I ever forget you!

Steve Fouga

I posted a lousy link earlier. Try these. Actually, none of these are great; I'm trying to get to the actual NOAA report, but haven't found it.

George Croix

I still remember the 1975 CBS 'investigative report/documentary', 'The Guns of Autumn', and figure they've only gone downhill even further since, but I'll check that site out anyway later. [smile]
Right now, actually, I'm focused on "...could be...some other mechanism, or several mechanisms", as you so well put it.
On that, we can agree to agree.

George Croix

Or both.
Hang tough, GS.

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