Assessing the risk from rising seas using year 2100 population forecasts for all 319 coastal counties in the continental U.S., a new UGA study predicts that more than 13 million American homes will be threatened by rising sea levels by the end of the century:
The study is based on analyses by Mathew Hauer for his doctoral work with the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences; Deepak Mishra of the UGA department of geography; and Jason Evans, a former UGA faculty member now with Stetson University. It was published March 14 in the journal Nature Climate Change.
Based on year 2100 population forecasts, the authors report that a 6-foot sea level rise will expose more than 13 million people to flooding and other hazards from rising seas. Florida faces the most risk, where up to 6 million residents could be affected. One million people each in California and Louisiana also could be impacted.
Scientists believe worldwide sea levels could rise by 3 to 6 feet by 2100. Even with a 3-foot rise, population trends indicate that more than 4.2 million coastal residents in the continental U.S. would be at risk, according to Hauer.
"The impact projections are up to three times larger than current estimates, which significantly underestimate the effect of sea level rise in the United States," Hauer said. "In fact, there are 31 counties where more than 100,000 residents could be affected by 6 feet of sea level rise."
This work is garnering wide attention across all major media and for good reason. Just as we wrote last week, the thin edge of climate change denial is growing more tenuous by the day, thanks to the diligent work of researchers like Hauer and Mishra. The sooner we reckon with findings like these, the better able policymakers will be to make recommendations to protect people and property. The public should demand no less. Concocting reasons why none of this is happening or there is nothing to be done about it is sad and irresponsible.
Image: TIME magazine.