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Desert Diary


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Much of the population of the world lives within a relatively few miles of the seashore and only a few feet above sea level. We of the Chihuahuan Desert, of course, don't—and maybe that's a good thing in the long run. A number of things are happening as a consequence of global warming. One of these is a rise in sea level due to two different phenomena: the expansion of the oceanic waters as their temperature rises and the melting of ice trapped in glaciers and ice caps.

The last interglacial age, which was somewhat warmer than the current interglacial conditions we enjoy, has fossil beaches well above the present seashore—a clear signal of what's in store for such cities as New York and Miami if the trend toward warmer temperatures continues. Those who contend that we cannot afford the economic cost of curtailing the human contribution to the warming climate quite apparently are either ignoring the economic cost of the rising seas or—perhaps—just willing to pass all the costs on to future generations.
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Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, Public Radio for the Southwest.


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.