The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

National News

September 6, 2013

Floods may cost cities $60B a year

WASHINGTON — A little bit of sea level rise could go a long way to increasing flood risk for the globe’s coastal cities. New research finds it’s possible to reduce that risk, but not make it disappear completely. It also finds that cities not typically thought of as hot spots for sea level rise and flooding will actually be some of the biggest losers in a soggier future.

Global sea levels have risen 8 inches over the past century. Some areas have experienced even greater amounts due to land subsiding due to natural and human causes. At the same time, populations along coasts have experienced major growth. In the U.S., an estimated 87 million people live along the coast, up from 47 million in 1960. Globally, six of the world’s 10 largest cities are on the coast.

The confluence of these factors has caused major economic losses from flooding. Hurricane Sandy caused up to $70 billion in damages while Katrina caused $125 billion in losses, much of it due to rising water.

With these environmental and social trends set to continue and possibly accelerate over the next 40 years, losses due to flooding represents a key challenge for coastal cities to deal with. A Nature Climate Change study published Sunday found that costs could rise dramatically if nothing is done to account for rising seas and subsiding land.

Assuming sea levels rise 15.75 inches above today’s heights by 2050 and subsidence from human development continues, the study found that losses from flooding in 136 of the world’s coastal port cities could near $1 trillion annually by 2050.

The estimate of 15.75 inches is within the range of probable sea level rise scenarios according to a 2012 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report.

However, if $1 trillion in annual losses sounds implausible, that’s because it basically is. “To get to $1 trillion, we have to basically have places which are destroyed every two years and are rebuilt again and again,” Stéphane Hallegatte, a senior economist at the World Bank and lead author of the study, said. “It’s not a realistic scenario; it just shows it’s impossible to have a scenario that we do nothing.”

Text Only
National News
  • 10 things to know for today

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

     

    July 25, 2014

  • Arizona's prolonged lethal injection is fourth in U.S. this year

    Arizona's execution of double-murderer Joseph Wood marked the fourth time this year that a state failed to dispatch a convict efficiently, according to the Constitution Project, a bipartisan legal group.3

    July 24, 2014

  • 10 things to know for today

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

     

    July 24, 2014

  • U.S. economy, though sluggish, may now be sturdier WASHINGTON (AP) — Out of a seemingly hollow recovery from the Great Recession, a more durable if still slow-growing U.S. economy has emerged.That conclusion, one held by a growing number of economists, might surprise many people. After all, in the fi

    July 24, 2014

  • FAA lifts ban on U.S. flights to Tel Aviv WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Aviation Administration has lifted its ban on U.S. flights in and out of Israel, which the agency had imposed out of concern for the risk of planes being hit by Hamas rockets.The decision was effective at 11:45 p.m. EDT

    July 24, 2014

  • Memorial honoring injured vets underway WASHINGTON (AP) — Army Lt. Dawn Halfaker was on patrol 10 years ago in Baqubah, Iraq, when a rocket-propelled grenade tore through her military vehicle and exploded inside.When she woke up from a coma, the West Point graduate found out her right arm

    July 24, 2014

  • Arizona high court delays planned execution

    Arizona's highest court on Wednesday temporarily halted the execution of a condemned inmate so it could consider a last-minute appeal.

    July 23, 2014

  • Obama declares Washington wildfire emergency

    Wetter, cooler weather has helped firefighters make progress in their efforts to get the largest wildfire in Washington state's history under control.

    July 23, 2014

  • 10 things to know for today

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

     

    July 23, 2014

  • Lawmakers face long to-do list, uncertain success WASHINGTON (AP) — A gridlocked Congress failed to do the big things: overhauling the nation’s immigration system, reforming the loophole-cluttered tax code and stiffening background checks on gun buyers. Now it’s time to see whether it can just do th

    July 23, 2014

AP Video
Facebook