More than 400 American cities and their millions of people will be submerged in the near future by rising sea levels. According to a new study, the world is fast approaching the post-apocalyptic catastrophe of submerged cities and extremely harsh weather. The bad news is that for most cities, it’s too late to save them.
In a study titled “Carbon Choices Determine US Cities Committed to Futures Below Sea Level”, published in the Journal Proceedings on the National Academy of Science, scientists have determined that rising greenhouse gas emissions are closing the window to cap global warming below 2 degrees. The scientists predict a rise in sea levels of between 14 and 32 feet by the end of this century if carbon emissions continue rising unabatedly.
According to Anders Leverman, a co-author of the study, such a rise in sea levels would effectively mean up to 1,185 municipalities in the U.S. alone would be submerged. This includes 21 cities with populations over 100,000. And for some of these cities such as Miami, it is already too late to save them.
In explaining the long term effects of our current inaction Leverman said “The emissions that we produce now will impact climate in about 15 to 20 years. We are still determining what our kids and grandkids will experience. We are the last generation that can do something. I thought at one point that it would be enough to educate the next generation to solve the problem, but we have to solve it.”
The study also outlined that carbon emissions would worsen the harsh weather conditions already prevalent in many parts of the U.S. Unpredictable hurricanes, rampant flooding along the coastal cities and drought in the mainland are just some of the extreme weather conditions coming our way if carbon emissions are not capped.
Leverman was further worried about how society would deal with the harsh weather. He said, “I worry a lot about how society will deal with abrupt climate change and weather extremities. Societies aren’t necessarily as stable as we like to believe. Abrupt climate change and weather extremities put tension on a society and change its well being, and that may lead to a tipping (point) for societies, even in the industrialized world.”
Leverman said he would be looking forward to the United Nations Climate Change Conference that will be held in Paris this December to reemphasize the need for renewable energy. He said that was the only way of curbing a rise in global warming beyond two degrees.