By Jessica Corbett
As an iceberg the size of Delaware broke away from an ice shelf in Antarctica Wednesday, scientists released findings that up to 668 U.S. communities could face chronic flooding from rising sea levels by the end of the century.
More than 90 communities are already grappling with "chronic inundation" from sea level rise caused by climate change—meaning they have crossed the threshold for when "flooding becomes unmanageable for people's daily lives," disrupting "people's routines, livelihoods, homes and communities."
#Trump's Right, We Do Need to Build a Wall https://t.co/9GXCZe9Ihl @UCSUSA @climatehawk1 @ClimateReality— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1499881671.0
Coastal sections of Louisiana and Maryland account for the majority of the communities that are currently experiencing heavy flooding, but UCS researchers predict these unmanageable floods will reach the Jersey Shore and Florida's Gulf Coast by mid-century.
By 2100, they calculate 40 to 60 percent of all oceanfront communities on the East and Gulf Coasts, and a growing number of West Coast communities, will be inundated with chronic flooding. At-risk regions include major cities like Boston, Savannah, Fort Lauderdale, Newark and four of New York City's five boroughs.
"We hope this analysis provides a wake-up call to coastal communities—and us as a nation—so we can see this coming and have time to prepare," said Erika Spanger-Siegfried, a UCS senior analyst and co-author of the report, the first study of its kind to examine potential flood risks for the entire coastline of the lower 48 states.
The UCS researchers also considered which cities may be spared from the worst of the flooding if the Paris agreement goals are met. Although Donald Trump withdrew from the climate agreement, many U.S. state and community leaders have committed to upholding it.
"Meeting the long term goals of the Paris agreement would offer coastal communities facing chronic flooding their best chance to limit the harms of sea level rise," said Rachel Cleetus, UCS's lead economist. The UCS researchers considered which cities may be spared from the worst of the flooding if the Paris agreement goals are met.
Although "large-scale reductions in global warming emissions," which are among the Paris agreement's main goals, "may slow the rate at which sea level rise is accelerating and save many communities," the report noted for many communities, it's too little, too late.
"For hundreds of other cities and towns," it said, "increased flooding is inevitable, and adaptation is now essential."
Some communities are already making efforts to address flooding by raising roads, raising or constructing sea walls and installing pumping systems. Miami Beach has started work on a major flood prevention project that is expected to cost the city hundreds of millions over the next several years. Although Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine has been lauded for embracing climate science and taking action to address the flooding, his plan has also been criticized by climate deniers and experts alike.
"There's no playbook for this," Levine said to the Miami New Times. "There's no one saying, 'Here, mayor, follow these 20 easy steps and you'll be OK."
The scientific community is increasingly looking for ways to engage with policymakers and the public. The UCS report made a number of policy recommendations based on its analysis, and this week, a group of more than 300 scientists from around the world are meeting in New York City to review current sea-level science and beginning discussions about collaborating on future research.
"We have a special responsibility to help society respond to the climate issue," said Guy Brasseur of the World Climate Research Programme, one of the conference organizers, urging the conference attendees to invest heavily in sea-level rise research.
But even with access to robust scientific information about these issues, environmental policies can take a backseat when certain social issues are more politically convenient, or in communities without the financial means to develop and implement massive prevention projects like the one in Miami Beach.
More than half of the 170 communities most at-risk for flooding over the next two decades encompass socioeconomically vulnerable neighborhoods, the UCS report noted—"similar to the proportion of today's chronically inundated communities."
The Eastern Shore of Maryland, one of the regions currently experiencing some of the worst chronic flooding, "is home to a large elderly population on fixed incomes and a large African American population, two groups that have traditionally had fewer resources to cope with environmental disasters and change," the report noted.
Report authors also acknowledged that these communities will require more assistance to address rising flood concerns:
"This analysis brings attention to the fact that these communities will need more resources and more capacity in order to prepare for the impacts of sea level rise. Fair solutions will be those that include considerations of socioeconomic vulnerability and are implemented equitably across communities."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
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Where Does the Deficiency Begin?<p>Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. The question of when a deficiency starts is correspondingly controversial. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular.Not only is the pseudo-scientific literature on the "sun vitamin" experiencing an upswing, but the number of published studies has also increased enormously in recent years. For example, in 2019 <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/40/4/1109/5126915" target="_blank">a study found that</a> Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the skeleton functional and is associated with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer. <br></p>
An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
Low Vitamin D, Severe COVID-19 Disease?<p>A research study carried out <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352364620300067?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">at the University of Hohenheim</a> has now established a link between vitamin D deficiency, certain previous diseases, and severe cases of COVID-19.</p><p>According to the study, "there is a lot of evidence that several non-communicable diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome) are associated with low vitamin D plasma levels. These comorbidities, together with the often accompanying vitamin D deficiency, increase the risk of severe COVID-19 events."</p><p>"This statement is completely correct," said Martin Fassnacht, head of endocrinology at the University Hospital of Würzburg. However, he qualifies that it is a pure association, "i.e. a mere observation that these events occur together.</p><p>Dr. Fassnacht is very critical of the hype surrounding vitamin D, but not because he denies the vitamin serves important functions. However, studies on humans have not been able to show that vitamin D has the healing powers many often propagate.</p><p>Fassnacht says, "If you take a closer look, the hopes that the administration of vitamin D has a healing effect have not been confirmed so far."</p>
Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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