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New Global Warming Projections Carry a Greater Threat to Coastal Cities

A view of Ilulissat Icefjord in Greenland, where the melting of ice sheets is accelerating. (United Nations / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The latest projections of climate change predict an increase in global temperatures of about 3.2 degrees Celsius by 2100. (The Paris climate accord, meanwhile, had a goal of limiting the rise to 2 C.)

According to the nonprofit organization Climate Central, an estimated 275 million people worldwide live in areas that will flood as a result.

Such a temperature increase would raise sea levels by melting the ice sheets around the North and South Poles. Asia would be the worst-hit region, with four out of five people affected living there.

Huge commercial areas of Osaka, Japan, where nearly a third of the region’s 19 million residents live, would disappear under water.

The Guardian reports:

Osaka, Japan

As a result of global sea-level rise, storm surges and other factors, economists project that coastal flooding could put almost $1tn of Osaka’s assets at risk by the 2070s, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Alexandria, Egypt

The IPCC reported that Alexandria’s beaches would be submerged even with a 0.5-metre sea-level rise, while 8 million people would be displaced by flooding in Alexandria and the Nile Delta if no protective measures are taken. A 3C world threatens far greater damage than that.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Residents of Brazil’s postcard city have plenty of reasons to fear global warming – even if they don’t quite know it. According to Climate Central, a temperature rise of 3C would cause flooding of not just Rio’s famous beaches such as Copacabana and its waterfront domestic airport, but also inland areas of the Barra de Tijuca neighbourhood, where last year’s Olympic Games were held.

Shanghai, China

In 2012, a report from a team of UK and Dutch scientists declared Shanghai the most vulnerable major city in the world to serious flooding, based on factors such as numbers of people living close to the coastline, time needed to recover from flooding, and measures to prevent floodwater. According to Climate Central projections, 17.5 million people could be displaced by rising waters if global temperatures increase by 3C.

Projections show the vast majority of the city could eventually be submerged in water, including much of the downtown area, landmarks such as the Lujiazui skyline and the historical Bund, both airports, and the entirety of its outlying Chongming Island.

Miami, US

Locals consider this the “new normal” in the biggest city of Florida’s largest metropolitan area, which would simply cease to exist with a 3C temperature rise. Even at 2C, forecasts show almost the entire bottom third of Florida – the area south of Lake Okeechobee currently home to more than 7 million people – submerged, with grim projections for the rest of the state in a little more than half a century. In Miami-Dade county alone, almost $15bn of coastal property is at risk of flooding in just the next 15 years.

Read the full report here in The Guardian.

Donald Kaufman
Correspondent
Donald Kaufman began contributing to Truthdig in 2013. He has reported from many locations, including Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and North Dakota, where he covered the confrontations over the Dakota Access…
Donald Kaufman

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