Nearly 40% of our country’s population lives in cities that sit directly on shorelines. Any person that lives in a town by the coast is in danger of having their home completely submerged in about fifty years time. In 2014, global sea level was 2.6 inches above the 1993 average, meaning that sea levels are starting to rise faster than ever before- and that’s really bad news for Americans.
Incredibly populous cities that sit surrounded by water are in danger of being underwater. According to the New Yorker, “[a]s the average global temperature increases, sea level is projected to rise more than one foot by 2045, which would put a fifth of Miami underwater at high tide.” Miami, as of 2017, has a population of 463,367 people- meaning around 92,669 people would become displaced as a result of having their cities and homes flooded to the point where they’re no longer habitable. New York City, Atlantic City, and New Orleans would face similar fates- much of their counties being decimated by rising tides. It begs the question: why is this happening? What causes sea levels to rise?
Directly related to global warming, glaciers and ice caps are melting at alarming rates. According to the National Geographic, “researchers believe that most central and eastern Himalayan glaciers could virtually disappear by 2035.” The melting of these glaciers means more water in the ocean- the same way a melted ice cube makes your cup of water a little more full. And, if all land ice melted, sea level would rise approximately 230 feet worldwide. Considering that most of New York City would be underwater with just an 8 foot rise in water levels, 230 feet is detrimental and would simply destroy most of the world. What causes global warming is an increase in greenhouse gases, which is directly linked to man-made pollution. This is a domino effect, and pollution is the root cause of it all.
Americans are already seeing the effects of sea level rising. Cities all around the country are experiencing more and more “nuisance” flooding than ever before. Nuisance flooding, simply put, is when streets get flooded as a result of heavy rainfall. The water dissipates relatively quickly, but the damage these minor floods cause has become more and more problematic. Houston, Texas, for example, has seen major flooding in the fast few weeks. It rains almost every day of the week, and every time it rains, it floods. Flooding forces businesses to close, costing business owners hundreds of thousands of dollars. It forces schools to close, leaving children without education, and forces parents to take time off of work and lose money as a result, to stay home and take care of their kids. Flooding in Houston also caused a major power outage, and 160,000 customers lost electricity at one point in May 2019.
As far as solutions, this may be a problem that the average American cannot solve on their own. This problem is at a governmental level- laws that deal with climate change and pollution have to be put into effect immediately by our government to ensure that this problem does not get any worse. Be prepared to leave your city if you happen to live in a coastal area. Be aware of the problems that rising sea levels will cause America in the coming years.