A new study by Climate Central finds that as much as 32 percent of America’s coastal regions could potentially be affected by rising sea levels caused by global warming over coming decades. As reported in the New York Times, up to 3.7 million Americans live within four feet of high tide, where the effects would be the most drastic.
"Sea level rise is not some distant problem that we can just let our children deal with. The risks are imminent and serious," said Ben Strauss, a member of Climate Central and primary author of two papers outlining the research to NJ.com. "Just a small amount of sea level rise, including what we may well see within the next 20 years, can turn yesterday’s manageable flood into tomorrow’s potential disaster."
While Florida is the most vulnerable state, California is among the top five alongside New York, New Jersey, and Louisiana. According to Strauss in the Chicago Tribune, Southern California is particularly susceptible as the area rarely sees storms that rise beyond three feet, and "they'll be seeing water to 4 feet regularly,” resulting in “coastal flooding like they've never seen before."
While Strauss considers “a lot” of rising sea levels as “inevitable,” there are still precautions that can be taken.
“If we reduce our greenhouse emissions rapidly, we can make a big difference,” he stressed to the Chicago Tribune. “But no matter how much we cut, we've already kind of locked ourselves into a future with a lot higher seas."