1,700 American Cities and Towns Face Drowning


Hundreds of American cities and towns face a real threat of inundation from rising sea levels due to greenhouse gas emissions built up in the atmosphere, according to a study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Major cities such as Boston, New York and Miami—and hundreds of other cities and towns, mostly in coastal areas but some inland—may be under water in coming years, according to the study Rapid Accumulation of Committed Sea-level Rise from Global Warming by Benjamin H. Strauss.

The report does not give a date by which these cities would go under water, rather it pinpoints a “locked-in” date by which time the progress of greenhouse gas emissions and their accumulated effects would be unstoppable and the rising sea level would affect urban populations. A location was considered to be “under threat” if 25% of its current population lives below the locked-in projected high-tide level. Approximately 1,700 places are at risk from rising waters in this definition, and even if projections are set higher, at 50% of the current population below the expected high-tide level, then roughly 1,400 cities and towns would be threatened by 2100.

“Even if we could just stop global emissions tomorrow on a dime, Fort Lauderdale, Miami Gardens, Hoboken, New Jersey will be under sea level,” said Strauss, a researcher at Climate Central, an independent organization of leading scientists and journalists researching and reporting the facts about changing climate and its impact on the American public.

The potential economic cost of rising seas is enormous, given the consequent need to move and rebuild infrastructure and relocate populations. According to the recently issued analysis The Coastline at Risk: 2013 Update to the Estimated Insured Value of U.S. Coastal Properties by AIR Worldwide Corporation, the insured value of U.S. residential and commercial properties in coastal counties now exceeds $10 trillion, and while New York edges Florida as the state with the highest coastal property values, at close to $3 trillion, Florida has the largest proportion of its value in coastal counties at almost 80%.

Do you see the effects of climate anywhere? Thinking about a long-term investment in future beachfront property in the Poconos? Let us know what you think.

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