Why Will Flooding Closures Become Commonplace?






As I was planning an upcoming trip, I came across the Schroeder Saddletree Factory Museum located in Madison, Indiana. I noticed that the link to the site on Google Maps indicated that it was closed, and so I investigated further to find out why. Well, well, well...because the site had been flooded in a flash flood, it is closed until further notice.

Now, this isn't really all that earth-shattering when one thinks about it initially; especially most of society today. Most people (planning a trip) would probably simply say, "Aaww, what a shame...that's too bad," while moving on to the next site to visit. Even I have had this same response to different roads, places, and even entire towns closed due to flooding. Unfortunately, there's really very little anyone can do at that point. Not that much can be done ahead of time either, other than make certain that all the proper flood mitigation procedures that can be taken, have been taken. 

I mentioned the floods in British Columbia late last year in a previous article, but it is true that flooding will become much worse as time moves forward. In fact, flooding is already a serious issue, as can be seen in that link to the Flooding file. The simple fact regarding flooding has to do with Clausius-Clapeyron equation where the atmosphere can hold 7% more water vapor for every 1C temperature rise. Just like so many other predicaments being made much worse through self-reinforcing positive feedback loops, so are extreme weather events being made worse every year due to climate change. Warmer temperatures create more severe droughts, more severe storms (hurricanes, tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and high wind events, among other types of events), and more severe flooding due to more precipitation falling during these events.  

So, what does this mean for flooding closures? More severe precipitation events will lead to more flash-flooding and lead to scenarios where entire areas are under water, such as the floods in Tennessee last summer, the fiasco in northern Alabama last October, and the floods in the northeastern US last September. This same scenario is repeating itself in every corner of the globe and mountainous areas are being hit harder than flatlands due to all types of slides - mudslides, rockslides, and landslides are becoming more common and entire mountainsides occasionally wipe out entire neighborhoods. In other words, not only will flooding closures become more common as time moves forward, but entire communities will be devastated with not only water, but infrastructural failures as well. Here's yet another disaster which just happened recently in South Africa.

The sad truth is that the above links are just a tiny fraction of the events happening globally every year. By searching for dam failures, landslides, road washouts, bridge collapses, and/or flooding events, you will be blown away by just how many there are and how many are caused by what amounts to flash flooding or liquefaction caused by heavy rain events. 

But even though there are thousands and thousands of events like these every year, even that is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Remember, this is a positive feedback, so it will continue to get larger and larger in an exponential (not linear) fashion. So what looks like complete disaster right now is just the beginning. In addition, flooding isn't limited to just extreme precipitation events. Many other infrastructural failures can also be implicated in other types of flooding events such as the Fukushima Daiichi Incident in 2011. The flooding there was caused by a tsunami caused by an earthquake, and as I pointed out in my article about earthquakes and volcanoes, we can expect much more of this type of geologic activity in the future as a result of isostatic rebound. As if that doesn't sound like enough fun already, there are even more troubles ahead, as I pointed out in my article about infrastructure (hint: think about concrete spalling). Yikes, these predicaments just keep getting crazier and crazier!

What many different people would have you believe is that there is a happy outcome ahead if we just get busy right now and fight climate change. In many people's minds, the government is to blame for many things, although in reality, playing the blame game accomplishes nothing. [I really like Steve Bull's latest article, which points out that the people in charge (government or not) are not going to save us. In fact, I like Steve's article better than Richard Heinberg's article which Steve's was based on!] But getting busy "fighting" climate change also accomplishes little to nothing because everyone is focused on reducing emissions. Emissions reductions cannot be had while ecological overshoot continues increasing, and climate change cannot be fought without reducing ecological overshoot because overshoot CAUSES climate change (and all the other symptom predicaments). Powering down and reducing technology use are the only ways to voluntarily reduce ecological overshoot. If we don't do it, however, nature will do it for us. So, in reality, we have no real choice. The longer we continue bargaining with the predicament instead of comprehending and accepting it, the faster civilizational collapse (already in progress now) will occur. 

Civilizational collapse was already guaranteed back in the 1970's, and scientists of the time brought this fact to the forefront (think of Limits to Growth) only to have people who don't understand ecological overshoot criticize the book and claim that it was meritless. However, civilizational collapse, disastrous in and of itself, doesn't really compare to ecological collapse. Civilizational collapse will most likely cause a mass dieoff of about 7 out of every 8 people currently on the planet. This is something which cannot be prevented. Attempts to prolong civilization in efforts to prevent said dieoff will only result in a deepening of the mass extinction we are already in, and these endeavors have been ongoing over the past 50 years in what amounts to a shot at bargaining. Nature doesn't negotiate, so society has only been fooling itself. But ecological collapse (which is already also occurring) is scary because this is what could eliminate the remaining individuals who survive the mass dieoff from civilizational collapse. Here is a look at the prospects of what this means.

OK, I'm getting off-topic since this article is supposed to just be about flooding closures, but one can see how this domino effect of self-reinforcing positive feedbacks will snowball and take most everything we know and cherish right along with them, let alone cause flooding closures to become commonplace. Just a final note before closing; because of the Clausius-Clapeyron equation mentioned above, heatwaves will become far more intense because of the added moisture as outlined in this study.


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