According to a team of scientists from the non-profit organization Climate Central, vast areas of London, New York, Bangkok and other major cities will likely be underwater by the end of the century, based on current climate trajectories that will cause massive sea level rise. As a result of rising water levels, coastlines will be significantly altered, and many cities will become uninhabitable, displacing hundreds of millions of people.
Although world leaders currently meeting at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt are struggling to find ways to limit global temperatures from rising any further, the current greenhouse emissions pathway is still estimated to cause a global temperature rise of 2.7°C to 3.1°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century.
Heatwaves will be more frequent and long-lasting, causing droughts, global food shortages, migration, and increased spread of infectious diseases. Moreover, as the polar ice will melt, sea levels will rise substantially, affecting a large number of coastline cities and as many as 275 million of their inhabitants.
According to maps modelled by the researchers, low-lying London will be one of the most affected major cities in the West, while parts of Northern France, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands will also be flooded by 2100. In the United States, rising sea levels and floods will likely bring parts of New York, Newark and Jersey City under water, together with the southern coast of Long Island, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and Oakland. And if global temperatures will rise above 3°C, Miami will probably be completely submerged and ceased to exist as a city.
However, it is the population of Asia that is expected to be most affected by sea level rise. Enormous cities such as Shanghai in China, Bangkok in Thailand, or Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam will be at extreme risk of flooding that will displace millions of inhabitants and cause a massive humanitarian crisis.
In order to avoid these scenarios, urgent actions to curb climate change should be taken. According to many experts, the biggest threat to the environment is unmitigated consumption, which is highest in the most developed countries.
“Global evidence shows that a small portion of the world’s people use most of the Earth’s resources and produce most of its greenhouse gas emissions,” said Poonam Muttreja, executive director of the Population Foundation of India. “Over the past 25 years, the richest 10 percent of the global population has been responsible for more than half of all carbon emissions.”
Climate Central’s interactive maps projecting expected global changes can be found here.
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