Science & Technology
Climate change could prompt 'mass migration'
March 14, 2016 | 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 donít do anything, the migration will mimic the Great Migration from the south to the north, over similar timescales."
Source: The Guardian
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