Climate change is no longer the far-away, somewhat nebulous phenomenon that it was not so long ago. It is with us here and happening now, and its impacts are being felt across both the developing and developed world. Its effects occur without warning uprooting lives and homes, disrupting economies, and leaving millions of dollars in damages in its wake.
New predictive analysis by Climate Central provides data and imagery on worldwide exposure to rising sea levels and coastal flooding. Results show that 147 to 216 million people live on land that will be below sea level or regular flood levels by the end of the century; that is if emissions from heat-trapping gasses continue on their current trajectory.
The map below provides information on actual country impact. Click here or on the image to be directed to a NY Times dynamic graphic.
Flooding Risk From Climate Change, Country by Country. Source; The NY Times 9/14/2014. Click here on on the map for dynamic visual.
The largest impacts are predicted to occur in China where 41 to 63 million people are projected to feel the worst of the effects. Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa and the Continent’s largest economy reportedly faces population exposure in the hundreds of thousands.
People living on land that will be below sea level or chronic flood levels by the end of the century, assuming current emissions trends continue, and medium sensitivity of sea level to warming. Some countries, such as the Netherlands, have levees that may provide protection. For the list ranked by percent exposure, we considered only countries with total populations over 1 million.
Source; Climate Central Dot Org.
Projections are subject to change depending also on the sensitivity of sea levels to warming.
There is a growing recognition among national leaders of just how disruptive climate change effects can be to an economy, and forward thinking administrations are constantly on the look-out for affordable, sustainable, and scalable solutions that can create pathways towards more resilient economies. On the 23rd of September, 2014, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon invited world leaders from across the globe to New York in a bid to catalyze climate action.
The result was a draft universal climate agreement which will accompany these same world leaders to Lima, Peru in December of this year and Paris, France, in December 2015 where the agreement will hopefully pass into law.
Previous efforts at such an agreement in 2009 faded to nothingness following a disastrous climate summit in Copenhagen, but per Christina Figueres; Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, “a lot has changed in 4 years, and there are higher hopes for Paris”. Furthermore, according to Figueres, Paris will be different from Copenhagen because governments and negotiators will have had 14 months to mobilize and negotiate, and the realities today are considerably more alarming than they were 4 years ago. Climate change impacts are being felt more decidedly and more frequently than they were in 2009, and recent climate related disasters have had a “sobering effect” on world leaders across the globe.
In a moving poem “Dear Matafele Peinem” performed before an audience of 120 state dignitaries, spoken-word poet Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, 26, from the a tiny Pacific Island nation; Marshall Islands, promised her seven-month-old daughter, protection from the threat of climate change, which she says world leaders are ignoring, and to quote her moving and impassioned words;
“We deserve to do more than just survive…we deserve to thrive.”
…those hidden behind platinum titles who like to pretend we don’t exist,
…backwater bullying of business with broken morals…no one is drowning, baby,
no one’s moving, no one’s losing their homeland.
We won’t let you down. You’ll see.”
The NY Times
UN Climate Summit 2014