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article imageGlobal rise of just 3C could leave many cities below sea level

By Ken Hanly     Nov 3, 2017 in Environment
A recent analysis of data from the Climate Central group of scientists by the Guardian showed that if the world warms by just 3 degrees Celsius (5.4 F) as the UN predicts is happening, many cities around the world will be inundated by rising waters.
The 3 degree Celsius rise in temperature would result in an irreversible rise in sea levels of perhaps two meters.
Cities in Asia such as Shanghai in China and Osaka in Japan would be negatively affected. However the damage would be widespread globally, with Alexandria in Egypt also badly flooded. In South America Rio de Janeiro would be hard hit.
In the United States, Miami would be inundated, as would the entire bottom third of Florida state.
The Guardian found that local preparations for such an increase in temperature were very patchy as were international efforts to stop it from happening. In six of the coastal regions most likely to suffer significant harm, government planners were very slow in coming to come to grips with the enormity of the task confronting them. In some cases nothing at all has been done.
Next week, there are climate talks scheduled to take place in Bonn Germany that are designed to increase national commitments to reduce carbon dioxide levels so that the temperature will rise only between 1.5 and 2 degrees C, the goal of the 215 Paris agreement. President Trump is withdrawing the US from the Paris agreement.
A recent report by the UN Environment Programmes showed that government commitments were only a third of what was needed. Cities, companies, and citizens could help fill this gap but global warming appears still on track to rise by 3 degrees Celsius or even more by the end of this century according to the report.
Erik Solheim, UN environment chief said that progress since the 2015 Paris agreement has not been adequate: “We still find ourselves in a situation where we are not doing nearly enough to save hundreds of millions of people from a miserable future,”
Just recently, the World Meteorological Organisation claimed that carbon dioxide concentrations in the stratosphere rose at a record speed reaching 403.3 parts per million. Such high levels have not happened since three to five million years ago during the Pliocene era.
Some cities are doing little as they have no cash and there is little sense of urgency. Although in Rio de Janeiro, the city would lose its famous beaches such as Copacabana, and many of its Olympic sites a report compiled for the Brazilian presidency found "situations in which climate changes are not within the scope of planning."
The changes could hurt agricultural land and food production as well. Even in the UK there are swaths of agricultural land in Lincolnshire that could be lost to the rising sea.
Allison Baptiste, director of strategy and investment at the UK Environment Agency said that measures in place could protect most communities in the near and medium term : “We’re conscious that climate change is happening and perhaps faster than expected so we are trying to mitigate and adapt to protect people and property. We can’t stop it, but we can reduce the risk. If climate change projections are accurate, we’re going to have to make some difficult decisions.”
Effects on Miami
An article in the Guardian shows the effects of the global warming on several cities around the globe in some detail. I will just cite some of the negative effects on the Florida city of Miami.
Up to 2.7 million people could be affected in the Miami area. The metropolitan area of Miami would simply cease to exist if the temperature rises 3 degrees Celsius.
Even with just a two degree rise the area south of Lake Okeechobee in Florida that is now home to more than 7 million people will be submerged. In Miami-Dade county alone about $15 billion of coastal property faces the risk of flooding within the next 15 years.
Miami officials realize the urgency of the situation and have asked voters to approve a "Miami Forever " bond in a ballot this month that will include $192 million in upgrading pumping stations, improving drainage and raising sea walls.
Ken Russell, the vice-chair of the city's commission said:“We have a really precious city that many people love and are willing to invest in right now, but it’s going to take some funds to protect it."
Sea-rise expert Jane Gilbert has been tasked with creating a robust storm-water management program. Storm surge such as that from hurricane Irma brought significant flooding to downtown Brickell and the nearby Coconut Grove.
Proposals include elevating roads and even abandoning some neighborhoods to protect others. Gilbert said: “We need universal recognition that we’re all in this together, to protect this amazing global city that we’ve become,”
US scientists at odds with government policies
Just this Friday 13 US federal agencies released an exhaustive scientific report which claims that humans are the dominant cause of a global temperature rise that has created the warmest period in the history of civilization. This directly contradicts the Trump administration's position on climate change.
The report claims that over the past 115 years the average global temperature has risen by 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit. The long term trend the report argues is unambiguous. There is no convincing alternative explanation to the view that the change is mostly caused by human intervention.
Many scientists who worked on the report were surprised that none of the 13 agencies who reviewed the report tried to undermine its findings or change the wording.
Philip Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center said: “This report has some very powerful, hard-hitting statements that are totally at odds with senior administration folks and at odds with their policies. It begs the question, where are members of the administration getting their information from? They’re obviously not getting it from their own scientists.”
More about Global warming, Sea levels, coastal city flooding
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