Megacities hit hard by surg­ing sea lev­els even at 2C rise

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH -

PARIS: Large swathes of Shang­hai, Mum­bai, New York and other ci­ties will slip un­der the waves even if an up­com­ing cli­mate sum­mit lim­its global warm­ing to two de­grees Cel­sius, sci­en­tists re­ported Sun­day. A 2 C (3.6 Fahren­heit) spike in Earth’s tem­per­a­ture would sub­merge land cur­rently oc­cu­pied by 280 mil­lion peo­ple, while an in­crease of 4 C (7.2 F) — hu­man­ity’s cur­rent tra­jec­tory-would cover ar­eas lived on by more than 600 mil­lion, the study said. “Two de­grees Cel­sius warm­ing will pose a long-term, ex­is­ten­tial dan­ger to many great coastal ci­ties and re­gions,” said lead author Ben Strauss, vice pres­i­dent for sea level and cli­mate im­pacts at Cli­mate Cen­tral, a US-based re­search group.

Sea level rises cor­re­spond­ing to th­ese 2 C or 4 C sce­nar­ios could un­fold in two hun­dred years, but would more likely hap­pen over many cen­turies, per­haps as long as 2,000 years, ac­cord­ing to the re­search, pub­lished by Cli­mate Cen­tral. Cap­ping the rise in Earth’s tem­per­a­tures to 2 C above pre-in­dus­trial lev­els is the core goal of the 195-na­tion UN cli­mate sum­mit in Paris from Novem­ber 30 to De­cem­ber 11. The most ef­fec­tive way to slow global warm­ing is to slash the out­put of the green­house gases which drive it.

But even if emis­sions re­duc­tion pledges-many of them con­di­tioned on financial aid-sub­mit­ted by 150 na­tions ahead of the Paris sum­mit are ful­filled, it would still put us on a path­way for a 3 C (4.8 F) world, the United Na­tions has warned. Achiev­ing the two-de­gree goal re­mains a se­ri­ous chal­lenge. Strauss and col­leagues ap­ply on a global scale the same method­ol­ogy they used for a re­cent study that fo­cused on tem­per­a­ture-linked sea level rise in the United States, pub­lished in the US Pro­ceed­ings of the Na­tional Academy of Sciences.

That study con­cluded that both Mi­ami and New Or­leans are doomed to crip­pling im­pacts. In the new re­port, the coun­try hit hard­est by sea level rise un­der a 4 C sce­nario is China. To­day, some 145 mil­lion peo­ple live in Chi­nese ci­ties and coastal ar­eas that would even­tu­ally be­come ocean were tem­per­a­tures to climb that high. Four of the 10 most dev­as­tated megacities would be Chi­nese: land oc­cu­pied to­day by 44 mil­lion peo­ple in Shang­hai, Tian­jin, Hong Kong and Taizhou would be un­der­wa­ter. In­dia, Viet­nam and Bangladesh do not fare much bet­ter. —AFP

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