As disaster prices continue to rise across the United States, a troubling new debate has become urgent: if there’s not enough cash to protect each coastal community from the results of human-caused global warming.
After three years of brutal flooding and hurricanes, there is a rising argument among policymakers and scientists that coastal areas will require vital spending to avoid future storms and rising sea levels — not in many years but now and very soon.
There is additionally a growing realization that some communities, even sizeable ones, might be left behind.
New research presents one way to look at the enormity of the cost as policymakers consider how to decide on winners and losers in the race to adapt to climate change.
By 2040, offering necessary storm-surge protection in the type of sea partitions for all coastal cities with over 25,000 residents would require a minimum of $42bn, in accordance with new estimates from the Centre for Climate Integrity, an environmental advocacy group.
Increasing the list to incorporate communities smaller than 25,000 individuals would improve that value to more than $400bn.
“When you get into it, you realize we’re not going to guard lots of these locations,” said Richard Wiles, the center’s director.
“That is the subsequent wave of climate denial — denying the costs that we’re all dealing with.”
The research is restricted in that it considers only sea partitions, and not different methods for minimizing flood risk which may be more sensible in some places, corresponding to moving properties and shops away from the most vulnerable areas.