Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Fire and Water

Mathew Hauer, a demographer at the University of Georgia, estimates that by the end of the century as many as 13.1 million Americans could too find themselves displaced due to rising sea levels. His research is published in the journal Nature Climate Change and suggests those migrants will be forced to move to inland cities.

The report notes that sea-level rise is "expected to reshape the U.S. population distribution, potentially stressing landlocked areas unprepared to accommodate this wave of coastal migrants."

For instance, if seas rise the expected 1.8 meters by 2100, Texas could see a surge of nearly 1.5 million additional residents. Specifically, inland cities including Austin and Houston, Texas; Orlando, Florida; and Atlanta, Georgia could each see more than 250,000 people migrating from the imperiled coasts.

Meanwhile, Miami and New Orleans are expected to lose more than 2 million people each due to flooding, while nine states could experience declining populations: Virginia, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey, Louisiana, California, and New York.

At the same time, residents who live near the sun-scorched valleys and drought-wracked forests of the western U.S. are going to increasingly see larger, more devastating forest fires. Park Williams, a bioclimatologist the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University told Climate Central, "We now know that continued increases in fire activity are inevitable, but we've been able to come up with no other way forward other than to fight fires as hard as we can. All we're doing is paying huge amounts of money to deliver an even worse problem onto the next generation."

By mid-century, forest fires will possibly be so immense that letting them burn will mean sacrificing whole towns in some cases


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