Ocean Conservation Priorities for 2041

On January 1, 2016, the Southern Fried Science central server began uploading blog posts apparently circa 2041. Due to a related corruption of the contemporary database, we are, at this time, unable to remove these Field Notes from the Future or prevent the uploading of additional posts. Please enjoy this glimpse into the ocean future while we attempt to rectify the situation.


Another year, another set of ocean conservation priorities. As with the last 5 years, there will be some new ones, and some repeats. The biggest issues shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, plastics have been an issue forever and global norming is rapidly taking over the broader ocean conversation. For a refresher, check out our priorities for 2036, 2037, 2038, 2039, and 2040.

Sea Level Rise Induced Habitat Loss: This has been a big one on the docket the last few years. As the ocean rises many species are experiencing dramatic loss of habitat, especially sensitive coastal nursery grounds. Although we’ve known about this for a while, we haven’t even begun to quantify the extent of damage to marine populations. Salt inundation is also compromising coast terrestrial habitats, driving essential species further inland. Read More

To dyke, or not to dyke: A debate coming to a town near you

Finally, President Obama’s state of the union called out Congress’s problem with climate change. Their denial is merely a symptom of overall scientific ignorance, a simply medieval issue that has temporarily stalled many great nations’ progress throughout history. Yet, President Obama’s points about climate change and it’s relevance to the nation gives one hope that there is a small smoldering ember of collaborative-driven leadership buried under piles of Benghazi reports, and it couldn’t come a moment too soon. The USA has stalled its scientific and technological growth at a key time in global history and is already generations behind the modern world in technological advancements to protect its people against a rising threat – the ocean.

Let me present you with a case study. I live in Zeeland in the Netherlands, and this area is protected by the world-famous Oosterschelde surge barrier; a 9km system of dams, movable concrete slabs, and artificial islands.  The Oosterschelde is one of many ocean barriers strategically placed along the Dutch coast and has been deemed one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.  During storm events, the Oosterschelde’s massive concrete slabs shut and cut off Zeeland’s waterways from the surge of the North Sea.

By Nils van der Burg from Madrid, Spain (IMG_7446) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Oosterschelde Delta Works – 9km long: By Nils van der Burg from Madrid, Spain (IMG_7446) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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#DrownYourTown Coastal States Road Trip is coming to your (virtual) town

Last week, I kicked off the #DrownYourTown Coastal States Road Trip with a cruise through California. Over the next few weeks, we’ll visit every coastal US state (and territory) and see what they look like after 5 meters of sea level rise. The first week of images is available at the #DrownYourTown tumblr and you can follow along in real time on twitter @DrownYourTown.

Panama City, FL after 5 meters of sea level rise.

Panama City, FL after 5 meters of sea level rise.

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A scientist writes science fiction – thoughts on self-publishing my first novel

Early this month, I completed and self-published my first science fiction novel through Amazon’s Kindle Direct publishing service (and, a few days later, as a paperback through Createspace). The ideas for the book were conceived over a long week in August, while vacationing with my parents at a rental house in St. Michaels, Maryland. Wandering through the low-lying eastern shore towns started me thinking about the kinds of stories we would tell hundreds of years from now. Thus, the central conceit of Fleet — that it was not a tale of environmental devastation but of people living their lives in a post-sea-level-rise world — surfaced.

Writing Fleet was a marathon. All told, from the first day that I started outlining characters and deciding what the central story of Fleet — uncovering a human disaster caused by desperation and betrayal, then buried at sea — to the day I hit publish on the Amazon server, Fleet took a little over 3 and a half months, during which time I was also moving across the country, finishing several scientific manuscripts, and looking for a job.

Having now had a few weeks to decompress, I think it’s a good time to reflect on the book, what I tried to accomplish, and where it goes from here.

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The last climate change refugees fight for survival in this grim view of our future ocean – Fleet: The Complete Collection

Fleet: The Complete Collection

 completesmall“The sea is big. The sea is cruel. She takes more than she gives. That’s how it’s always been.”

The world has changed. Coastal cities lie abandoned as the encroaching sea rises, drowning and reshaping the land. Violent plagues, impervious to antibiotics, sweep across the planet, erasing entire communities in a single outbreak. The last refugees take to the sea, fleeing from the chaos in increasingly decrepit ships.

To the people of the Fleet, this is ancient history. There is no room for nostalgia when every day is a fight for survival.

Finally, after five months, the Fleet saga is complete. Sail with the crews of Miss Amy, Melville, Gallant, Salty Dog, Knot Work, Pair-a-dice, Satyr, Crystal Coast Lady III, Seahorse, Eastward, Rosscarrie, Shellfish Lover, and NC-3502-WM as they fight for survival in a new and unyielding ocean. Currently available as an Amazon Kindle eBook, a paperback edition will be available shortly.

Fleet: The Complete Collection

 

How to #DrownYourTown: a step by step guide to modeling sea level rise in Google Earth

We’ve reached the point in the program where requests for #DrownYourTown are coming in faster than I can process. That’s great! It means people are really connecting with the #DrownYourTown hashtag as a way to bring the concept (if not the specific details) of sea level rise home. The response has been greater than I ever imagined!

So, rather than leave people high and dry (we wouldn’t want that, would we), here is a step by step guide to simulating sea level rise anywhere in the world using Google Earth and a little geographic wizardry. The best part? It can all be done with completely free software.

1. Download Google Earth — you can find it here. Take some time to play around with it. Google packed this free package with some awesome features.

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#DrownYourTown: Exploring Sea Level Rise through real-time, interactive, GIS modeling

UPDATE: These posts, and the hashtag are getting a lot of attention, so I’d like to reiterate, Caveat Tweetor (twitter beware) — these models are being generated on the fly as request come in. They are not validated and there are many variables that influence sea level rise which are not taken into account. This is a fun way to visualize potential sea level rise but it would be inadvisable to use it for real estate speculation. 

This afternoon, I took to twitter to try out a novel outreach initiative — getting people to think about sea level rise by asking them to drown their home towns. With Google Earth and a “Sea Level” image layer booted up, I was poised for 2 hours of intense map manipulation. The requests came in fast, and ranged from the expected coastal cities with a couple meters of sea level rise all the way to the radical (yes, we flooded Reno, Nevada). After 120 minutes, I had produced models at 52 locations and interacted with more than 400 people. I was also completely exhausted. Here, for your enjoyment, is the complete collection of #DrownYourTown models from the initial 2-hour marathon.

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Science in the Fleet: What would your hometown look like with 80 meters Sea Level Rise

UPDATE: These posts, and the hashtag are getting a lot of attention, so I’d like to reiterate, Caveat Tweetor (twitter beware) — these models are being generated on the fly as request come in. They are not validated and there are many variables that influence sea level rise which are not taken into account. This is a fun way to visualize potential sea level rise but it would be inadvisable to use it for real estate speculation. 

The central conceit in the world of Fleet–my dystopian maritime science fiction serial adventure–is that sea level has risen 80 meters, an extreme maximum projection under global climate change prediction (INSERT LINK TO USGS DATA HERE AFTER SHUTDOWN ENDS – UPDATE: Oh, neat, we have a federal government again. Here’s the source). Since 80 meters is pretty hard to visualize, I turned to Google Earth to help me simulate what our world would look like under those conditions, starting with my new residence in San Francisco:

FleetSanFran

San Francisco, 80 meters

Oh, but we’re not done yet.

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Sick of fictional mermaid documentaries? Try some dystopian maritime science fiction, instead!

FleetCover1-REACH

Welcome to the Fleet!

It’s the near future, the rising tides have swallowed much of the world’s coastlines, and the last survivors of a deadly plague are scattered across a new and vastly different ocean. But all is not well in the Reach. The fish are dwindling, the currents are shifting, and secrets long thought lost are rising to the surface.

Fleet is my experiment in semi-serial science fiction self-publishing. Every month I’ll reveal three more chapters in this epic saga, starting today. Check it out in the Amazon Kindle store — Fleet: The Reach.

This is an experiment, so I want to here your thoughts and comments, what you loved, what you hated. Part 1: The Reach is only $0.99 (please note, subsequent parts will be $1.99) and all parts will eventually be compiled into an omnibus edition, with a few extras. Please leave your impressions in the comment field below.

And, of course, if you like it, please take the time to leave a review on Amazon!