As many as 760 million people could be affected by rising sea levels if business-as-usual global warming continues, with estimated temperature increases of 4°C by the turn of the next century. Aggressive carbon cuts could lower that rise to only 2°C, and could potentially reduce the number of people at risk to 130 million people.
Often, when we hear talk of rising sea levels, we think of island nations, which are already victims of the waves and are contemplating evacuation. But the reality is much worse.
China has the world’s most at-risk population, with over 145 million people living in regions that would be affected by rising seas. The United States, with its densely populated coastline, has roughly 25 million people at risk.
Other nations with more than 10 million people currently at risk include India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia and Japan.
The “megacities” most at risk from rising sea levels are Shanghai, Hong Kong, Calcutta, Mumbai, Dhaka, Jakarta and Hanoi.
To truly appreciate the impact of rising sea levels, visual artist Nickolay Lamm used Climate Central’s sea-level map data to create visualizations of a world with a 2°C and 4°C rise in temperature. One side of the images shows post-2100 sea levels if we were to experience temperature increases of 4°C; the other side shows what the world would look like if aggressive carbon cuts were made and temperature increases were kept at or below 2°C.
Author: Donald Armbrecht is a freelance writer and social media producer.
Image: Cars are stranded on a flooded street after heavy rainfall hit Nanjing, Jiangsu province, China. REUTERS/Stringer