February 16, 2014--Report describes the unfathomable cost of inaction on rising seas (InsideClimate News)

The world needs to invest tens of billions of dollars a year in beefing up shoreline defenses against rising oceans or it will face mind-boggling costs in the decades to come, according to new research published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. If nations don't build up dikes, levees and sea walls, harden existing infrastructure, and preserve natural sponges like wetlands and barrier islands—and if they also do nothing to cut the emissions of greenhouse gases that cause global warming and are driving sea levels higher—the damages could be almost beyond comprehension, the researchers warned. In a worst case, almost five percent of the world's population could be exposed to flooding at the start of the next century, and the damage could surpass nine percent of future global GDP each year. This future damage from floods, they wrote, "may be one of the most costly aspects of climate change." Rounded off, this worst-case dollar cost of rising sea levels could reach $100 trillion by the year 2100, they estimated. That's no typo: It's one hundred thousand billions. Even taking into account the uncertainties in any such work, which the authors recognize, that is a pretty impressive cost to be paid for a few feet of rising seas. And its publication in such a prestigious peer-reviewed journal means it is not to be lightly shrugged off.

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