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Climate change could prompt 'mass migration'


Posted on Monday, 14 March, 2016 | Comment icon 47 comments

Rising sea levels are likely to swallow up large areas of coastline. Image Credit: National Park Service
As many as 13 million people who live on the US coast could become homeless by the end of the century.
New research by the University of Georgia has indicated that, in a worst-case scenario, so many people will need to move inland to avoid rising sea levels by the year 2100 that the population upheaval will be comparable to that of the 20th century's Great Migration.

Assuming worst-case predictions actually come to pass, a sea level rise of approximately 6ft, coupled with an increase in population along the US coastlines, could see more than 13 million people losing their homes to the encroaching tides within the next 85 years.

Even a moderate sea level rise of 0.9m could still make over 4 million people homeless.

The projections suggest that Florida and South Carolina will be some of the worst hit states while cities such as New York and New Orleans will also see significant flooding.

"We knew that the number of affected people had been underestimated until now, but the extent of that underestimation surprised us," said study co-author Mathew Hauer.

Key to mitigating these risks, aside from curbing global warming, will be to plan new developments accordingly so that new roads and buildings will not be constructed in low-lying, high risk areas.

"Adaption will be an option, such as deploying critical infrastructure, raising buildings and roads," said Hauer. "At the moment, roads and hospitals are typically being built in areas without these future projections in mind."

"If we don’t do anything, the migration will mimic the Great Migration from the south to the north, over similar timescales."

Source: The Guardian | Comments (47)

Tags: Climate Change, Sea Level

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #38 Posted by mister on 19 March, 2016, 22:59
Which is gonna happen how when most of our politicians are still towing the no such thing as global warming line? The same way older structures have been built (Hoover Dam, Gavelston Seawall, Red River Floodway, etc). Assuming that Al Gore is right, once people in coastal areas begin to perceive that the threat of flooding will be real and constant, they will take initiative, as humans have always done throughout history. People have been fighting flooding for thousands of years, I don't think a civilization has ever let itself sink. Unless the water rose so fast that they did not have time to... [More]
Comment icon #39 Posted by mister on 19 March, 2016, 23:01
My greater point is that initiatives will take place at a local level, as they always have. I don't think we need some kind of global system to solve this problem, assuming that the science is really settled to begin with.
Comment icon #40 Posted by docyabut2 on 19 March, 2016, 23:11
Gee guys there always been Climate changes and flooding in ancient history, you just have take your kids and animals and run to the hills:)
Comment icon #41 Posted by socrates.junior on 20 March, 2016, 2:36
That'll teach me to check my facts before I post. That should have been 120 feet, but I don't remember where I got it, probably from an article that predicted that amount of rise by 2200. Gainesville is about 175 feet above sea level, so if ALL on-land ice melts, it will be flooded, as sea level rise in that eventuality will be about 216 feet (65m). Yep, lots of ice on land. 30-odd m still seems a lot for 2200. Of course, ice shelf instability (esp. in the Antarctic) is a real possibility, so no upward prediction is unlikely per se. The whole shebang likely won't melt for more hundreds of year... [More]
Comment icon #42 Posted by Doug1o29 on 20 March, 2016, 18:46
Gee guys there always been Climate changes and flooding in ancient history, you just have take your kids and animals and run to the hills:) In Kansas, there has been about 1.6 degrees of temperature rise over the last 185 years. There was about 20 degrees of run on my back porch thermometer yesterday. That's why you can't see it - the short-term variation completely swamps the long-term rise. But climate change is not about daily, or even decadal, ups and downs. It's a long term trend that persists in the background. It's there, no matter what the thermometer is doing today. I have started a p... [More]
Comment icon #43 Posted by Doug1o29 on 20 March, 2016, 18:49
Florida will return from whence it came. The gators will frolic in the remnants of the Appalachians. Or something like that. A 350-year old baldcypress log was recovered from Washington, DC near the National Geographic building. It is estimated at about 125,000 years old. That place used to be a cypress swamp. It's now around 30 feet above sea level. Eventually, you're going to need boat to get from the White House to Capitol Hill. Doug
Comment icon #44 Posted by docyabut2 on 20 March, 2016, 23:02
It could go back to when there once was a ocean running right through the U.S
Comment icon #45 Posted by Ashotep on 12 April, 2016, 18:34
Or we could trap rainwater in time of floods and use it in times of drought...duh. Makes sense to me but in some states that is against the law.
Comment icon #46 Posted by Ashotep on 12 April, 2016, 18:39
I intend to aggressively protect my beloved traditional southern culture of Mississippi from any liberal Yankee scum who might invade. Also, no Californians whatsoever; they will never assimilate and will try to force their flaky socialistic ideas on my fellow conservative rednecks. lol, you will be forced to take them.
Comment icon #47 Posted by Ashotep on 12 April, 2016, 18:42
As some places will be in a severe drought others will be getting way too much rain. Either way its not good for growing crops. This climate change is one reason I'm so against taking anymore people because we may find in a short time we can't feed the ones we already have.


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