Sunday, April 27, 2014
You don't need to believe in climate change - it's happening anyway.
As New Jersey residents loft their rebuilt homes onto five foot pilings along the shore and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio promises to get work started on 500 storm-demolished homes before Hurricane Sandy's two year anniversary, a new sea level rise analysis has found that $32 billion in property and 84,000 people are at risk of extreme coastal flooding in five New England states.
As part of its Surging Seas initiative, Climate Central is using data from federal agencies like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Geological Survey, among many others, to map sea level rise by zip code in an interactive tool that also shows the number of people and the value of the property at risk.
The mapping tool was launched in 2012 for New York, New Jersey and Florida. Now, data on Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Maine and Connecticut is also available. Of the states just added to the map, Connecticut has the highest value of property at risk from coastal flooding - $14.9 billion. For its part, Massachusetts has about 47,888 people who would be endangered by a four-foot flood. The odds of such a flood occurring in Boston in the next 15 years is 67 percent. Most at risk are the 17,662 people who are highly vulnerable to flooding because of their social and economic situations.
While these may be some of the most alarming statistics, none of these New England states can claim that sea level rise is a distant problem in Bangladesh or the Maldives. New Hampshire has more than $1 billion of property with a 40 percent risk of getting uncomfortably soggy in the next 25 years and Maine has 58,379 acres of land at a similar risk. Even in tiny Rhode Island, there is $4.3 billion worth of property built at an elevation with a one-in-three chance of flooding by 2040.