Study Finds Coastal Flooding From Sea Level Rise May Cost $100,000B Annually by 2100
Coastal regions may face massive increases in damages from storm surge flooding over the course of the twenty-first century. According to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, global average storm surge damages could increase from about $10-40 billion USD per year today to up to $100,000 billion USD per year by the end of century, if no adaptation action is taken.
The study lead by the Berlin-based think-tank Global Climate Forum (GCF) presents, for the first time, comprehensive global simulation results on future storm surge damages to buildings and infrastructure. Drastic increases in these damages are expected, on one hand, due to rising sea-levels and, on the other hand, due to population and economic growth. Asia and Africa may be particularly hard hit because of their rapidly growing coastal mega-cities, such as Shanghai, Manila or Lagos.
“If we ignore this problem, the consequences will be dramatic,” explained Jochen Hinkel from GCF and the study's lead author. In 2100, up to 600 million people (around five percent of the global population) could be affected by coastal flooding if no adaptation measures are put in place.
“Countries need to take action and invest in coastal protection measures, such as building or raising dikes, amongst other options,” urged Hinkel.
With such protection measures, the projected damages could be reduced to below $80 billion USD per year during the twenty-first century. The researchers found that investments level of $10 to 70 billion USD per year could achieve such a reduction.
Prompt action is needed most in Asia and Africa, where today large parts of the population are already affected by storm surge flooding. Yet even Germany must invest in coastal protection. It is not only dikes that are needed however. Alternative and more flexible coastal protection measures that better fit the natural environmental should also be developed. Examples of such alternatives to dikes are the reintroduction of mangrove forests, the rehabilitation of coastal dunes or artificial oyster banks. Meeting the challenge of adapting to rising sea-levels will not be easy.
used. The shaded areas show the respective uncertainty ranges defined by the maximum and minimum impacts.
“Poor countries and heavily impacted small-island states are not able to make the necessary investments alone," explained Hinkel. "They need international support.”
Adding to the challenge, international finance mechanisms have thus far proved sluggish in mobilizing funds for adapting to climate change, as the debate on adaptation funding at the recent climate conference in Warsaw once again confirmed.
“If we do not reduce greenhouse gases swiftly and substantially, some regions will have to seriously consider relocating significant numbers of people in the longer run,” Hinkel said.
Yet regardless of how much sea-level rise climate change brings, careful long-term regional and urban planning can ensure that development in high-risk flood zones is avoided. This long-term perspective is however a challenge to bring about, as coastal development tends to be dominated by short-term interests of, for example, real-estate and tourism companies, which prefer to build directly at the waterfront.
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By Gudrun Heise
Just as scientists are scoring successes in coronavirus research, new problems are on their way. Fall is with us and winter is around the corner, so the season for colds and flu has begun — joining COVID-19.
Influenza Vaccination<p>A flu vaccination may thus be able to narrow down the diagnostic options when flu-like symptoms occur, but whether such a vaccination also has an influence on the behavior of the dangerous new virus is — like so much else — not clear. "It is conceivable that there is an indirect effect. But it is, I believe, a matter of speculation whether it has an immunological effect in the narrower sense," says Krause.</p><p>Every winter, doctors' waiting rooms are full of people who are coughing and sniffing but who mostly turn out to have only a severe respiratory infection. According to current knowledge, the virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, is also likely to be subject to seasonal fluctuations. </p><p>In winter, cold viruses, at least, flourish because cold and dry air offers ideal conditions for their spread. In addition, it becomes more difficult to air rooms regularly and intensively — an important further measure to counteract the coronavirus and contain to some extent the danger posed by aerosols.</p><p>According to the <a href="https://www.rki.de/DE/Home/homepage_node.html" target="_blank">Robert Koch Institute, Germany's public health agency</a>, between 5% and 20% of people in Germany become infected with flu viruses every year. These viruses are also dangerous and can be fatal. The flu vaccination must be adapted to the influenza viruses every year, because they mutate. But at least there is a vaccination.</p><p>Most experts agree that there is unlikely to be a vaccine against the coronavirus by the time the next wave of influenza comes around. And even if a vaccine were to be approved, many unknowns remain.</p>
COVID-19 and Flu Simultaneously<p>For example, there is a lack of practical experience in dealing simultaneously with SARS-CoV-2 and influenza. It is possible to speculate that having influenza could facilitate the entry of the coronavirus into the human body. "The general weakening of the immune system during an influenza infection could increase the susceptibility of a patient to a SARS-CoV-2 infection," Krause says.</p><p>However, it is uncertain how dangerous this double infection could ultimately be and what can be done about it. Krause is of the opinion that we must arm ourselves against all three diseases — colds, flu and COVID-19. If we have a cold, bed rest, hot tea and cough medicine usually help. We can get vaccinated against flu. But how do we deal with COVID-19?</p><p><span></span>Probably people can only hope that if they get the illness, they will have a mild form with as few after-effects as possible. Here, it will certainly help to stick to suggested rules on hygiene to reduce or prevent our exposure to the virus. In an interview with DW, Bonn-based virology professor Hendrik Streeck made it clear that COVID-19 usually takes a more severe course when there is a high viral load at infection.</p>
Hygiene, Hygiene, Hygiene<p>The same hygiene measures with which we are trying to get at least some kind of grip on COVID-19 also apply to influenza. The less we come into contact with viruses, the greater the chance that we will be spared an infection or that it will be mild.</p><p>These measures include general hygiene precautions such as frequent hand washing and the wearing of protective face masks. "The various hygienic measures against COVID-19 will also reduce the spread of influenza," says Krause. "Possibly, further connections of a more immunological nature will be discovered."</p><p>Let us hope that is the case, because the flu season hasn't even started.</p>
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Back in March, when the pandemic had just planted its roots in the U.S., President Donald Trump directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to do something devastating: The agency was to indefinitely and cruelly suspend environmental rule enforcement. The EPA complied, and for just under half a year, it provided over 3,000 waivers that granted facilities clemency from state-level environmental rule compliance.