Authors

Austin W. Horne

Document Type

Internship Report

Publication Date

Spring 2017

Abstract

As many victims of rising sea levels, increased heatwaves and droughts, and worsened floods worldwide are seeing first-hand, the threats presented by man-made climate change are becoming increasingly obvious and threatening in the 2010s. Carbon concentrations in the Earth’s atmosphere have stabilized above 400 parts per million (ppm) for the first time in 2016 (Climate Central), and this year will likely also set the record for global temperature for the third consecutive year (TWC 2016). Warmer global temperatures have led to increases in extreme flooding and heat events this century, and have caused sea levels to rise worldwide, according to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (IPCC 2013). Possible future effects include alterations of major ocean currents, desert expansion, and increased frequency and strength of extreme storms. With so many of the world’s largest population centers on coastlines and in areas vulnerable to heat and flooding, cities are our front lines in the fight against the effects of sea level rise. The disruptive and costly relocation of millions away from flooded coastal metropolises is one of the direct consequences from unchecked climate change; even more imminent is how cities like Miami and others respond to the first effects of specific issues like sea level rise. With a majority of the world’s (54%) people living in urban areas for the first time in human history (UN 2014), cities have become even more important centers of activity than they were before. Much attention to sea level rise in the U.S. has focused on wealthier cities like Miami Beach, FL and Virginia Beach, VA, where resources allow for strong adaptation measures such as Miami Beach’s new $500 million seawater pumping system (Flechas et al. 2015). Given the large concentrations of socially vulnerable populations in many urban centers across the globe, climate adaptation measures that cities choose can have enormous short-term consequences for disadvantaged communities as well (Anguelovski et al. 2016). Cities have much invested in adaptation to sea level rise; it may do no less than determine their future existence.

Comments

Division: MES

MPS Track: MCO

Location: Sevenseas Travel and Conservation magazine

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