When Sea Level Rises

Or possibly falls.

You push a boulder up a small rise
Out of a little dip
It may roll away
Far down the other side of the hill
Into a valley you couldn’t see.
The climate could be like that.

Or not.
Quite likely it’s up hill all the way.

(I should tell you
Over forty years ago
I was destined for a career
Designing nuclear power stations
Until I realized
The error of those ways
And had a bloody great row
With the prof.)

There are nuclear power stations
All around the coast.
If sea level rises
They’ll get swamped

A half metre rise doesn’t sound much
Coastal erosion
Has made wide flat areas
Just offshore
Shallow waters
That absorb storm energy
Half a metre of extra depth
Will mean they absorb
Very much less
And every storm will batter
Anything on the coast. [1]

British reactors
Are better than Soviet ones
So they said
After Chernobyl.
And Japanese reactors
Are just as good as British ones
So they said
Until Fukushima.

If sea level doesn’t rise
Because the changing climate
Goes the other way
Like that boulder in the dip on the hillside
Then the Ice Is Coming
What advancing ice
Will do to nuclear reactors
Doesn’t bear thinking about.
Even just a lower sea level
Will take their cooling water away.

A nuclear reactor
Contains about a thousand times
As much radioactivity
As a nuclear bomb
And there are hundreds of them
Around the world.

But nuclear reactors
Aren’t the worst bit
The waste they produce
Doesn’t go away
And wherever they put it
It’s going to leak out...

...When the dry rocks
Become wet
Because of climate change
And you get lovely hot springs
Like Yucca Mountain had
Only a few thousand years ago
When the climate was different.

...Or a lower sea level means
That deep groundwater
That they rely on being stagnant
As it is today
Starts flowing again
Like it did
During the last Ice Age.

...Or when a bloody great glacier
Grinds away the rocks
That they’ve put their
Precious repository in.

What with more unpredictable weather
Which doesn’t help farmers grow food
And rising sea level
Flooding our farmland and our cities
Or advancing ice
Covering them up
Or grinding them away
Life’s going to be hard enough
For our descendants
If we have any by then

[1] See Wave-cut Platforms and Coastal Erosion.

You can listen to me reading this: