Lynes "Poco" Sloss, Rex, toasts Sarah Jane Freeman, the Queen of Carnival on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018.

Advocate Staff photo by SOPHIA GERMER

According to new satellite data, sea levels on average will rise another two feet this century, so that Rex of 2100 may have to toast his queen from a barge sailing past the Intercontinental.

The next day, instead of ashes-to-go for devout, but hurried, motorists, progressive churches will offer row-by penance.

Maybe it is a slur on posterity's smarts to assume it will not by then have fled to higher ground. Even before these latest dire projections, a University of Georgia study had concluded swelling seas would force one-third of the seven-parish metro's area 1.5 million residents to relocate this century, many of them to Texas. And the real picture may be even gloomier, according to the lead author of the latest study. These are “conservative” estimates of sea-level rise, says Steve Nerem of the University of Colorado.

But from here on, we won't have a clue what is going on, if Congress goes along with President Donald Trump's recommendation to eliminate funding for the NASA satellites that monitor climate change.

That is one of the proposals in the budget put together by the Trump administration in its crusade to boost fossil fuels and gut environmental protection.

That reckless budget runs to 160 pages and makes no reference to climate change except to recommend terminating an EPA program that combats it. It is perhaps not surprising that the EPA fails to mention climate change in its own five-year plan, given that Trump's choice to head it, Scott Pruitt, is so famously hostile to its mission.

U.S. hits record for costly weather disasters: $306 billion

It is regarded as inconceivable that Congress will go along with the Trump budget, but a White House so determined to court disaster is especially alarming tor those of us living in flood-prone regions.

The latest study follows countless others that have reached similar conclusions. It isn't surprising; the temperature's rising.

Climate change is a fact beyond dispute by any rational being. There may be some slight room for debate over the extent to which humanity is responsible for climate change, but the evidence makes it impossible to doubt the greenhouse effect and the deleterious role of, say, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It takes a professional obscurantist such as Rush Limbaugh to pooh-pooh pictures of emaciated polar bears on shrinking floes and posit that climatologists have conspired in a hoax.

So along comes Trump to recommend an end to a wide range of climate-change programs in favor of a “commitment to energy dominance.” Meanwhile, climate change exacerbates natural disasters and “2017 was unprecedented for deadly extreme weather events,” according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Federal health officials warn that rising temperatures will kill an extra 9,000 people in this country a year by the end of the century. Allowing that experts are frequently wrong, it seems crazy to abandon plans to mitigate any possible disaster.

The Sierra Club says Trump has “fully given himself over to corporate special interests above all else,” and it would take a bold soul to contradict. But even corporate special interests and their posterity must live on the same planet as the rest of us, and surely some sense of alarm must temper their devotion to a quick buck.

Certainly once Trump took over, the political climate in Washington favored relaxation of the environmental regulations propagated under President Barack Obama, and the emasculation of the EPA is likely to continue apace under Pruitt, who figures humanity might be better off for a spot of the global warming that others warn will bring pestilence and catastrophe.

It may already be too late to turn back the tide, and the only question is to what extent the seas will finally rise. Nerem is a bit of an optimist, figuring that, if it does turn out to be two feet by the end of the century, such cities as New Orleans and Miami can survive, albeit “at great expense.”

But if the seas keep going up, there must come a point at which we throw in the towel and decamp. One day, Comus will greet Rex in Austin. It won't be in a Trump hotel. Plans to open one there have been abandoned.

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