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Will We Drown?

Not yet - Before coastal cities around the world shore up their banks, we need to take action. One suggestion is to connect flood plains to rivers so that overflow is no longer a problem. And while, over time, global warming can cause melting glaciers that lead to rising sea levels, scientists in Israel think we'll be able to cope: The sea level in Israel has been rising and falling regularly for the past 2,500 years.

According to Israeli researcher Dorit Sivan, the changing sea level can be attributed to three main causes: the global cause (the volume of water in the ocean, which mirrors the mass of ice sheets and is related to global warming or cooling), the regional cause (vertical movement of the earth's surface, which is usually related to the pressure placed on the surface by the ice) and the local cause (vertical earthquake activity). Since Israel is not close to former ice caps and the tectonic activity along the Mediterranean coast is negligible, it can be concluded that drastic changes in Israel's sea levels are mainly related to changes in the volume of water during periods of global warming.

Sivan says, "Rises and falls in sea level over relatively short periods do not testify to a long-term trend. It is early yet to conclude from the short-term increases in sea level that this is a set course that will not take a change in direction."

Allowing coastal areas to be completely submerged by nearby rivers during storms would reduce flood damage to cities but alas, in most cases large patches of land are being built on instead. In BBC News, Mark Kinver quotes researcher Jeffrey Opperman as saying, "We are advocating very large-scale shifts in land use. There is simply no way economically or politically that this could be accomplished by turning large areas of flood-plains into parks."

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