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James Burgess

James Burgess

James Burgess studied Business Management at the University of Nottingham. He has worked in property development, chartered surveying, marketing, law, and accounts. He has also…

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Rising Seas could Cause $1 Trillion Damage a Year to Coastal Cities by 2050

A new study carried out by the economists at the World Bank has examined the risks that coastal cities around the world face due to global warming’s effect on extreme weather events, and rising sea levels.

The study determined the cost of flooding in 136 of the world’s largest coastal cities by matching average annual losses against the city’s gross domestic product (GDP), and predicted that by 2050 the cost could reach $1 trillion a year, if governments don’t start to take the “prophecies of doom” more seriously and prepare strategies to minimise the effects of severe weather and build flood defences.

Experts have always warned that coastal cities around the world are prone to the effects of flooding, as glaciers melt and sea levels continue to rise, but governments and authorities generally ignore the doom and gloom warnings that scientists give them.

Related article: NOAA: Sea Levels Hit New Highs

The study claimed that the potential losses caused by flooding was at around $6 billion a year in 2005, but predicts that as not enough is being done to cut emissions and halt global warming, by 2050 the cost could exceed $1 trillion a year. Over 40% of those costs will likely occur in just four global cities; New Orleans, Miami, and New York in the US, and then Guangzhou in China. The economists then argued that this annual cost could be cut to just $63 billion a year if cities developed strategies and plans to avoid, or at least minimise any adverse effects of rising sea levels and extreme weather systems.

The Maeslanterking flood barrier
The Maeslanterking flood barrier protects the Dutch city of Rotterdam in case of surges from the North Sea. New York has considered such a barrier. (Holland)

Related article: Why the CIA Is Worried About Geoengineering

The study paper was recently published in the Nature Climate Change journal, under the title ‘Future Flood Losses in Major Coastal Cities.

It warned that “prophecies such as these are intended to be proved wrong: the idea is that a prophet warns of horrors to come, people take steps and as a consequence the horrors do not arrive – it's not too late," said the paper.

But as disaster professionals have learned again and again, governments, city authorities, investors and even citizens tend not to listen to prophecies of doom: scientists and engineers repeatedly described what could happen to New Orleans if it was hit by a powerful-enough hurricane, and, in 2005, as Hurricane Katrina arrived, the levees gave way, with catastrophic results.”

By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com


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