Environmental News

New Sea-Level Rise Population Impacts Are Three Times Larger Than Current Estimates


In a letter published by the journal Nature Climate Change, researchers assessed the impacts of sea-level rise on growing coastal populations. They found that a sea-level rise of 0.9 meters by 2100 would affect 4.2 million people in the United States and a sea-level rise of 1.8 meters would affect 13.1 million. These estimates are three times larger than current estimates which have not taken into account population growth.

According to New Scientist, when making sea-level rise projections without taking into account population growth while discussing impacts to coastal populations, the predictions are inaccurate. Mathew Hauer, lead contributor to the finding stated that current data underestimates “what the future growth in coastal communities is likely to do in terms of placing people at risk of sea-level rise.” Seventy percent of the U.S.’s  coast that will be impacted by sea-level rise is expected to be in the south-eastern states.

Florida is expected to account for 35 percent of the sea-level rise projections.

South-eastern states include states like Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. New Scientist reported that it is illegal for officials to make policy regarding coastal management based on scientific modeling of sea-level rise. Florida is expected to account for 35 percent of the sea-level rise projections.

Some do not agree that sea-level rise will impact as many people as predicted by the projections. The reason is that they believe that people will adapt to the changes occurring at the shoreline. Still, researchers make these projections with the hope that lawmakers and officials will make the necessary preparation to adapt to sea-level rise.

Hauer stated that if officials deploy infrastructure changes in areas that are growing now, more people might be protected. He added that protecting more people early on through adapting infrastructure would be “a better investment.”

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