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