As the latest round of U.N. climate negotiations begin today in Cancun, it's worth re-examining what's potentially at stake for those of us living in the D.C. region if the nearly 200 countries attending can't come to some sort of agreement on regulating emissions. One of the more worrying predictions scientists have made is that, thanks to melting glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica, we could see a rise is sea levels somewhere between 3 and 6 feet by as early as 2100. What would that mean for us?
Not so much, it turns out. Or at least that's the conclusion one might draw from this model provided by the University of Arizona, which uses elevation data from the U.S. Geological Survey. While the coming ocean onslaught could mean the devastation of coastal cities worldwide and the forced migration of millions, in D.C. it might just make things more scenic.
The Jefferson Memorial will not just be by the water, it may be underwater. The northeast part of Roosevelt Island will gain more marshland, as well as the bit of Rock Creek where it meets the Potomac, which should please the old-timers who hunt catfish there. It's hard to see the upside of Bolling Air Force Base becoming submerged, but the military has solid engineers – can't they build a bigger sea wall? And Old Navy's name will finally make a little sense as the creeping water moves inland over the Potomac Yard Shopping Center. I'm sure the chain's marketing whizzes can figure out something about shopping with gondolas.
You can play around with the model here to see how much of your own city might be underwater by 2100.