The naysayers are thinning out now that mounting evidence points to drastic changes in climatic patterns, and the term “climate refugee”  is accepted in Wikipedia referring to people forced to move “due to sudden or gradual alterations in the natural environment related to at least one of three impacts of climate change: sea-level rise, extreme weather events, and drought and water scarcity.”

Vancouver City Council has declared a climate emergency. And Christopher Flavelle in the New York Times asks an important question~as sea levels rise, which coastal  cities will be saved and which will be sacrificed? The sea rise that was expected to take decades may be occuring in a few short years, meaning that governmental policy and budgets must adjust to deal with billions of dollars of basic storm-surge protection and sea walls. Flavelle estimates that if all coastal cities with more than 25,000 citizens were to be protected, $42 billion dollars would be required.

“Expanding the list to include communities smaller than 25,000 people would increase that cost to more than $400 billion.

Noting that the next piece of “climate denial” is ignoring the costs of flooding remediation, the Centre for Climate Integrity wants oil and gas industries to pony up for some of the costs. And the costs are limited by research to sea walls. The estimates to move residents away from flooding areas, redesigning storm, sanitary and drinking water infrastructure has not yet been factored in.

Already the Mayor of New York City has asked the Federal government to pay a $10 Billion dollar bill to protect part of Lower Manhattan from sea rise. And the levee system in New Orleans upgraded for $14 Billion dollars after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 is already sinking, and may be redundant in as little as four years.

Adapting to climate change risks will assist cities in attracting businesses looking for stable locations to operate.

The cities that are quick to adapt to climate risks “are going to attract the jobs and the factories of the future,” said Eric Smith, president and chief executive officer for the Americas at Swiss Re, one of the world’s largest reinsurance companies. “There’s going to be communities that I think will be left way, way behind.”

As cities assess the impact of sea rise on their day to day operations, ways to deal with flooding must be budgeted for. The estimates for the costs in the USA’s “ten most expensive cities for seawall protection” are listed below.

Top 10 most expensive cities to protect with sea walls

Total cost of adding sea walls

1. Jacksonville, Fla. $3.5 billion
2. New York City $2.0 billion
3. Virginia Beach $1.7 billion
4. Galveston, Tex. $1.1 billion
5. Charleston, S.C. $1.0 billion
6. Tampa, Fla. $938.4 million
7. Barnstable Town, Mass. $889.2 million
8. Corpus Christi, Tex. $861.1 million
9. St. Petersburg, Fla. $751.4 million
10. New Orleans $725.1 million

Cost per resident

1. Galveston, Tex. $21,282
2. Barnstable Town, Mass. $20,062
3. New Smyrna Beach, Fla. $14,946
4. Texas City, Tex. $12,603
5. Gloucester, Mass. $12,164
6. Dunedin, Fla. $10,922
7. Port Arthur, Tex. $10,289
8. Hilton Head Island, S.C. $9,632
9. Atlantic City, N.J. $9,327
10. Coral Gables, Fla. $8,442


  1. As more and more people and commercial centres are added to more scenic portions of a country, ie close to sea, river deltas or up dry forested areas it is to be expected that those costs go up.

    Hurricanes, floods, heavy rains, severe droughts, forest fires or strong currents have been with us for centuries. The only difference today is 24×7 hype on news channels, internet and TV and far FAR more people or developments in its path.

    More people, closer to natural re-covering danger zones means higher cost.

  2. Look at insurance coverage. The first cities to be sacrificed will be the smaller ones where flood insurance is eventually not available for any price.

    1. Not quite. I was in Houston last week looking at apartment buildings, many of which are in flood zones and/or were affected by the hurricane 2+ years ago. Since cities, or the state of TX needs more apartment buildings, just like here, they now offer state coverage where private insurance firms don’t go.

      If risk of floods or hurricanes were as high as the irrational hype about “climate emergencies” suggest, why do banks routinely lend tens of millions of $s to developers, and why do buyers shell out hundreds of thousands to millions for beach front condos in concrete beachside towers, in places like SC, FL, CA or even TX ?

      I deduce: the risk if coastal floods is grossly exaggerated, or easily mitigated by higher and better dykes (usually gently sloped, grassed, with walk/bike paths on top) as Holland and a few other places have demonstrated for 200+ years now ! It’s all manageable, rather than spending billions on CO2 taxes wasted by governments everywhere on excessive spending (such as far too high salaries and DB pensions) but not climate mitigation projects.

      1. Why? Because humans have not evolved for long-term thinking which is exacerbated by four year election cycles and politics that revolves around telling people what they want to hear. Hearing what you want to hear has worked exceptionally well on you, Beyer.

        Holland’s dikes were built incrementally over many hundreds of years with the understanding, during the whole process, that it would be battling a stable sea level. It has the advantage of a series of natural island barriers that do most of the work. Developed coastal regions around the globe won’t have the time nor often the money and resources to implement such enormous infrastructure in the time the scientists are predicting. And then what happens to Holland?

        Why not spend $billions encouraging us to progress rather than $trillions to fix the damage?

        We don’t need flat-earthers like Beyer who reject science if it doesn’t tell them what they want to hear. Beyer would have rejected flush toilets too. He abhors human progress.

        1. deleted as per editorial policy

          The “scientists predicting ..” have been wrong NUMEROUS TIMES !!

          Even the UN Climate Panel estimates that the impact of global warming — if we do nothing whatsoever — by the 2070s will be equivalent to a reduction in average income of ONLY 0.2-2% (and by then, we’ll be 100-300% richer) .. so let’s focus on getting richer AND NOT POORER so we have the resources to deal with these issues.

          1. Let’s focus on human progress and not remaining in the caves where Beyer would have us.

            Can you elaborate on what the scientists have gotten wrong WRT climate change? (And no, you may not use some talking head’s interpretation of what he or she thinks the scientists were saying.)

            Given that the science has always said the worst effects won’t be seen until the end of the century and will continue to get worse for a lot longer (if we don’t take serious action) it’s not surprising that their own predictions (if that’s even true) aren’t catastrophic for a cherry picked date long prior to that. But just watch fossil fuel supporters go ballistic if the exact same figures were the result of reduced fossil fuel use. They’d spin catastrophe and Beyer would buy it.

            If we’re going to be 100-300% richer we can certainly afford to invest in a healthier, greener and more sustainable future. You’re arguments don’t hold water as usual.

          2. I notice that Beyer is posting on other topics but has failed to provide a single example of what the climate scientists have gotten wrong. Since he claims they’ve gotten things wrong numerous times this should have been easy for him. Yet nothing.

  3. Site-specific conditions will always influence climate remediation strategies. In Richmond and in many places within the Fraser Delta to soils are very, very deep and very, very soft. It is expected that there will be an upper height limitation to building new or increasing the height of existing dykes before they sink into the muck. There is solid geotechnical evidence of liquefaction during earthquakes too, and dykes are not immune. Richmond is especially vulnerable because its highest point is already a metre BELOW high tide today. Moreover, the infiltration of salt water upwards through the soil profile is really starting to manifest itself in Richmond today.

    The latest estimates of sea level rise blew past the original half-metre by end-of-century only a couple of years after the UN’s first report on the issue. I suspect those born today who live to be octogenarians will see about 2-metres rise under the most recent calculations. The problem is that climate change is happening a lot faster than anyone predicted, so that could end up being three or four metres. With good planning and steady funding over the coming decades that could be fairly manageable in areas with stable glacial till or bedrock slopes descending to the water, which translates into a relatively small retreat from the shore, or possibly a higher and thicker terraced seawall system built on solid seabed rock. Canada Place and other major shoreline developments from the mid-20th Century will be ready for replacement anyway, and designing new buildings with higher piles and caissons and built-in seawalls shouldn’t present insurmountable barriers to architects and engineers.

    Perhaps the only way to keep a major city in place where Richmond exists today beyond the end of the century would be to float it. Ditto the high-quality alluvial soils, in essence floating farms. Otherwise, the arrival of 300,000 local climate refugees and the loss of hundreds of km2 of the best food-producing soils in Canada are on the horizon. The remaining 4 million Metro Vancouverites at the end of the century will have to learn to live on slopes during the 22nd Century.

    The skeptic’s narrative will in no doubt quieten even more as the rate and intensity of severe weather events, forest fires and sea level rise manifest themselves more visibly and less theoretically, and render denial into a pile of patently foolish rhetoric. The science ties the most serious tipping point to 450 parts per million atmospheric CO2 and the mass release of methane from permafrost and undersea clathrates. According to the US NOAA we are at almost 414 ppm today. We are heading toward 500+ ppm with current emissions. Should Vancouver see a 2-metre rise in sea level by year 2100, that will in no doubt be accompanied by a much warmer average coastal temperature, the burn-off of the rainforest and subtropical diseases and infections from new blooms of pollen, smoke and fungi. The loss of major plant, animal and sea species will be tragic.

    This is a world we need to avoid as much as possible. And here we have a federal government that declared a climate emergency two weeks after approving a pipeline for exported carbon while allowing thermal coal to be trans-shipped through the federally-controlled Port Metro Vancouver. Moreover they promised the revenue from the pipeline will fund renewable energy, this not a month after Toyota announced it will devote half its world car sales to electric vehicles in a little more than five years, following the trend set by all the other major car companies to greatly reduce the consumption of refined oil. The policy incoherence and scientific illiteracy of the Trudeau government and the opposition Conservative’s new climate “plan” is painful to watch.

    1. Here’s where Beyer chimes in and says, “the climate has always changed”, and thinks himself very very clever. Smarter than thousands of climate scientists who clearly have never though of that.

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