As Sea Levels Rise, Some Cities Will Be Saved While Others Will Be Left Behind

U.S. coastal cities need to prepare for the effects of climate change, but the pot of funding is limited. There’s no way around the fact that there will be winners and there will be losers.
June 22, 2019, 11am PDT | Camille Fink
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JasonBechtel

"As disaster costs keep rising nationwide, a troubling new debate has become urgent: If there’s not enough money to protect every coastal community from the effects of human-caused global warming, how should we decide which ones to save first?" writes Christopher Flavelle.

A new estimate finds that $42 billion will be needed to provide basic measures to protect cities with populations greater than 25,000 people by 2040. Including smaller cities with fewer than 25,000 residents raises the cost to $400 billion.

The funding needed will likely exceed what is available, and the federal government will face the inevitable task of determining which cities to save. The decision could be based on which investments will provide the best return. Another possibility would be to rank cities based on factors such as property values, historical and cultural significance, and contributions to the national economy, says Flavelle.

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Published on Wednesday, June 19, 2019 in The New York Times
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