If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the collection of photos Climate Central — a nonprofit news organization — touched-up to show what sea level rise flooding will do to coastal cities around the world if we don’t cut back on greenhouse gas emissions should leave you downright speechless.
The environmental group recently published before and after photos of the sea level rise flooding 184 sites from Dhaka Bangladesh to Charleston, South Carolina and everywhere in between will experience at varying levels of global warming from the preferred target of 1.5 degrees centigrade all the way up to 4 degrees centigrade. The collection is published under the title “Picturing Our Future” and tagged “Climate and energy choices this decade will influence how high sea levels rise for hundreds of years. Which future will we choose?”
Researchers used new global elevation data from a study titled “Unprecedented threats to cities from multi-century sea level rise” published on the IOPScience website to generate the photos. The study itself states “a portion of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions will stay in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, raising temperatures and sea levels globally.” They go on to explain that globally, we’re falling short of what needs to be done to avoid the worst case sea level rise flooding scenario. “Most nations’ emissions-reduction policies and actions do not seem to reflect this long-term threat,” they wrote, ” as collectively they point toward widespread permanent inundation of many developed areas.”
It’s critically important to note here that sea level rise isn’t a future threat, it’s happening now in coastal cities across the U.S. and around the world. In the US, federal, state and local government entities are already investing billions of dollars in funds to raise seawalls, roads, water and sewer systems, and other critical infrastructure. And these efforts are seen as merely a tiny fraction of what will actually be needed to fend off floodwaters in the years and decades to come. Many real estate owners in coastal areas that are experiencing flooding are already having to pay out of pocket to raise seawalls and elevate their houses. In areas that can’t be saved, some states are offering buy-outs to property owners.
The bottom line is today and tomorrow we will be dealing with sea level rise flooding. The decisions we make today will have short-term and long-term implications. Educating yourself on sea level rise flooding has never been more important.