'Washington Post' Profiles Norfolk, Virginia as Climate Change Victim

'Washington Post' Profiles Norfolk, Virginia as Climate Change Victim

The Washington Post is alarmed and has declared Norfolk, Virginia a “victim” of global warming because of a “faster” rising sea level.

That’s right, the Post has said that the sea is rising at Norfolk “faster” than anywhere else.

Reporter Lori Montgomery warned:

This came as no surprise in Norfolk, where normal tides have risen 1-1/2 feet over the past century and the sea is rising faster than anywhere else on the East Coast.

In its May 31 piece, the Post raised the alarm saying that Norfolk’s “The Hague” neighborhood is being inundated by flooding for 200 hours a year instead of the one-time average rate of 100 hours a year.

It is so bad, the Post says, that the 111-year-old Unitarian Church of Norfolk is thinking about selling its property and moving to higher ground.

“We don’t like being the poster child for climate change,” said the Rev. Jennifer Slade.

Naturally, politicians and even members of the Church are assuming that the federal government should sweep in with federal tax dollars to bail out all these property owners, buying their property so they can move away from flooding areas.

“The city is also looking to federal officials to help the Unitarian Church if no one steps forward to buy its property which is assessed at $1.8 million,” the Post reported. “Williams said the city cannot use ‘the people’s purse to buy every property that’s vulnerable,’ but he raised the possibility of a FEMA buyout.”

One might assume that if it is in a permanent flood zone, it might not really be worth “$1.8 million.”

The Post also makes the claim that the sea will rise a tremendous amount. “If current trends hold, VIMS scientists said, by the end of this century, the sea in Norfolk would rise by 5-1/2 feet or more,” it reads.

But that does not seem to jive with some of the area’s tidal gauges. One tidal gauge in the area, for instance, that has reported a higher rise than others says it has been a rise of 4.44 mm per year. So taking the Post’s word for “holding trends,” if that stays constant, by the end of the century that would be a rise of 15.03 inches, not any 5-1/2 feet.

Of course, the truth is that the Chesapeake Bay area has been in flux since before the day Europeans first landed there. Many small islands that existed in the 1600s and 1700s were submerged decades ago due to soil erosion and this has been happening since Europeans and Americans began settling the area.

Further some of this “rising sea level” is really a result of the land sinking. Some of the area has been built on landfill–in Norfolk’s case, marshland that had been filled in–and those grounds are settling and sinking below sea level. 

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com