Climate change campaign makes stop at the Battery

Under the sea: That's where we'll be

Posted by Kalyn Oyer on Tue, Jul 16, 2013 at 2:17 PM

A model looking at how rising sea levels would impact the Charleston peninsula - SCBARS
  • A model looking at how rising sea levels would impact the Charleston peninsula
There couldn’t have been a hotter July morning to talk about global warming. Charleston’s temperatures hit right around 90 degrees, but that didn’t stop the national “I Will Act On Climate” tour bus from stopping at the Battery to spread awareness about this global issue.

The S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce teamed up with the national campaign Tuesday morning to present information and speakers on the issue of rising sea levels. This event also acted as the debut of SCBARS, a.k.a. SC Businesses Against Rising Seas, a local movement designed to inform local businesses, residents, and tourists of the impact that global warming will have on the Lowcountry.

Lead speaker Scott Wolfrey first stepped up to the podium, surrounded by charts estimating the increase in water levels for the Charleston peninsula and Folly Beach by 2100. The prediction: 6 feet. That means that Folly Beach would lose around 95% of its landmass, and the edge of the Battery where everyone was standing would be underwater. 
Wolfrey said the organization had approached more 100 local businesses with the information, and more than 50 percent gave positive feedback and were receptive to the group's mission.

College of Charleston professor Dr. Mitchell Cogan then stepped forward to present the science behind the rising tides. There are three main reasons for sea level rise: the subsiding of land, thermal expansion (warming oceanic temperatures), and addition of water to the basin. The third can cause the greatest impact, and is applicable to the earth’s current situation, with an influx of water coming from melting ice in Greenland and Antarctica.

Since Charleston is a coastal town, we would be one of the first to feel a significant impact from the rise in water levels. To show just how high the water would rise, local organizations that have been approached on the subject can use blue tape to create a “watermark.” This way, customers can observe the damage a 6-foot increase in sea level would do to Charleston businesses.

Businesses can also display a window decal supporting the climate cause. Two local organizations that have participated so far are East Bay Deli and The Sale Loft on Market St.

To learn more, visit

Comments (8)

Showing 1-8 of 8

Considering everything will be underwater eventually, I'm willing to buy your battery or
beachfront property now!
Act quick!
I'm not gonna pay top dollar, but hey..u don't want to get stuck with your property underwater and worthless now do you?!

what a bunch of poppycock.

July 15, 2013 — A new study estimates that global sea levels will rise about 2.3 meters, or more than seven feet, over the NEXT SEVERAL THOUSAND YEARS for every degree (Celsius) the planet warms.....2100??
This international study is one of the first to combine analyses of four major contributors to potential sea level rise into a collective estimate, and compare it with evidence of past sea-level responses to global temperature changes.
Results of the study, funded primarily by the National Science Foundation and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, are being published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"The simulations of future scenarios we ran from physical models were fairly consistent with evidence of sea-level rise from the past.
"Some 120,000 years ago, for example, it was 1-2 degrees warmer than it is now and sea levels were about five to nine meters higher. This is consistent with what our models say MAY happen in the future."

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Posted by artrogue on July 16, 2013 at 6:08 PM

Great article. Thanks for covering this.

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Posted by csc on July 16, 2013 at 10:10 PM

Yep everyone thinks it's great and are all about it until they realize decrepit "historic" houses with single-pane windows with gaps in the windows, walls, floors, and doors are part of a huge, collective, neglectful energy efficiency problem here in Charleston - but the preservation/historical societies etc will have none of it, or make it a huge pain in the butt to make necessary improvements to do Charlston's part to combat the problem. And with so many renters living in houses built in the 1840s, they pay the $300 power bills for 1/3 or 1/2 of a house, so there is no incentive for the landlords/owners to make them more energy-efficient. In fact, there's disincentive to do so. So we look like a city who sits around with our thumbs up our butts, not doing our part, and relying on others to fix the problem.

I wonder if this is how we got labeled "snobby."

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Posted by Practical Solutions on July 17, 2013 at 8:34 AM

artrogue, you are misunderstanding that article. From the same article: "The study did not seek to estimate how much the planet will warm, or how rapidly sea levels will rise. Instead, we were trying to pin down the ‘sea-level commitment’ of global warming on a multi-millennial time scale."

In other words, because it is difficult to predict exactly when and how fast, the study eliminated time as a factor, attempting to flesh out the maximum amount of rise from x amount of warming.

The 120,000 years ago date is arbitrary. Things have changed dramatically in the years between now and 120,000 years ago. The IPCC on historic sea level rise: "Global sea level rose by about 120m (394 feet!) during the several millennia that followed the end of the last ice age (approximately 21,000 years ago), and stabilised between 3,000 and 2,000 years ago." As someone who studied earth history, I can tell you there are events of natural proportion and actual fact that have been even more dramatic in terms of rapid sea level change.

In other words, we already know that natural sea level rise can be far more dramatic than what you're implying it is. 21st century rise is bound to be at least consistent with early 20th century rise of 1.7mm a year (.55ft/century). If it maintains the increased rate since the 1970s, it will be another foot by 2100. That's only if the scientific establishment is just completely wrong.... and there are many things about IPCC estimates that already make them conservative (i.e. they don't even try to forecast ice sheet melting).

Charleston already has major problems with sea level due to half the city being developed in places it had no business being on (marshland). Variable precipitation patterns with even low estimates of sea level rise mean more nuisance floods, more flood damage, more beach erosion, and higher insurance rates, nationally subsidized flood insurance be damned.

I disagree with this program's focus on the high estimate of rise and the exclusive focus on federal mitigation, but that is no reason to belittle an issue we are already dealing with.

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Posted by Sean Bath on July 17, 2013 at 1:59 PM

"I disagree with this program's focus on the high estimate of rise."
umm yep. That is one reason to belittle the whole program.

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Posted by artrogue on July 17, 2013 at 2:48 PM

No, it isn't. You're acting as though 6 feet by 2100 is impossible. It's very possible. That is exactly what calls attention to treating the issue seriously. Should beach front property owners go selling their homes right now? No, that's just bad policy. But should new home owners purchase beach front property with the intention of living there their entire lives? Definitely not, and the above program informs people why.

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Posted by Sean Bath on July 17, 2013 at 3:21 PM

The projection used here--6 feet--is in line with current projections of global average rise. It's on the high end, but still very feasible. It's very important to keep in mind that we on the East Coast of the USA have 3x to 4x the rate of the global average. That means we should definitely be looking at the high end. Plus, recent studies show that the IPCC studies underestimated the amount of rise that we have witnessed up to now, which means they likely also underestimate future rise.

More importantly, though, is the point that our community needs a much greater awareness of the phenomenon and as Sean says, that's what the project does. The fact of the matter is that the sea is rising, the land is sinking, and people need to be aware of this fact.

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Posted by csc on July 17, 2013 at 4:34 PM

Considering that I've already seen flooding on the Battery and other downtown streets at high tide with no rain required, it's kind of late for anyone to be thinking of this as a hypothetical problem. It's already here, like it or not.

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Posted by obviousdusty on July 17, 2013 at 10:58 PM
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