Friday, May 23, 2014

The Costs of Climate Change Induced Flooding

A growing number of climate change related events are coalescing to contribute to very costly flooding.

The combination of thermal expansion, melting ice, and extreme precipitation are contributing to flooding which significantly increases the costs of climate change. Recent flooding in Central Europe accrued unprecedented costs and the UK in particular experienced some of the worst flooding in the Island nation's history. We have seen record setting downpours in Japan and recurrent widespread flooding in Australia. Last summer, we saw "Biblical flooding" in Colorado and most recently, the Balkans are suffering under a massive deluge. Even countries in the Middle East have been inundated by anomalous heavy precipitation in recent times.

In the past 140 years, sea levels have risen 7.7 inches and they are rising faster all the time. By the end of this century, scientists predict the seas will rise by as much as 7 feet. This will inundate cities around the world, including 1700 U.S. cities. We can expect that the homes and businesses of millions of Americans will be submerged. Americans. By 2100, up to 600 million people or five percent of the global population could be affected by coastal flooding.

There are more than five million cubic miles of ice on Earth and it is melting faster at an ever increasing pace. Our current average temperature of 58 Fahrenheit is steadily increasing and if left unchecked we are headed towards an average temperature that could exceed 80 degrees. Already Antarctic glaciers have passed points of no return as they lose 160 billion tons of ice per year. Other glaciers are also melting at surprisingly fast rates all around the world. As pointed out in the Third US National Climate Assessment, this includes those in BC and Alaska.

We cannot avoid the realization that the world is getting warmer and the more it warms, the more ice we will lose. If all the ice on land melted and drained into the sea it would raise sea levels 216 feet and effectively recreate new shorelines for our continents and inland seas.

Although it is hard to attribute any individual weather event to climate change, there is a growing body of evidence that is making it easier for scientists to say with confidence that climate change is behind changing precipitation patterns. Scientists, including those involved with the latest IPCC reports and the Third US National Climate Assessment concur that ice is melting, storm surges are increasing, as are extreme rates of precipitation. Even individual extreme precipitation events like that in the UK are being attributed to climate change.

When we think of flood damage, we commonly think of the impact on buildings. However, we need to be mindful that the costs extend beyond the immediate damage from water infiltration. We need to understand that floods kill people and destroy livelihoods. They deny people access to water, food, power and communications. In their aftermath, they commonly breed disease.

Heavy precipitation are also the cause landslides like the one in Washington state this year and flooding is behind mass migrations. For example, the recent floods in the Balkans led to over 2000 landslides and they drove some of the largest mass migrations since the war in the 1990s.

Flooding is already very expensive and the situation is expected to get far worse. The cost of the flooding in the Balkans alone is hundreds of millions of dollars. With a price tag of $15.2 billion, the summer floods in Germany and central Europe was the costliest event in 2013. This was even more costly than Hurricane Haiyan's $10 billion price tag.

Even before 2013, the EU had already spent $6.7 billion on flooding since the dawn of the new millennium. Scientists predict that flooding will double in the EU by 2050, which is expected to increase costs to $32.1 billion by 2050. Even this price tag is nothing compared to Hurricane Sandy, which on its own, cost the state of New York almost 50 billion.

A World Bank study indicates that the cost of flooding in 2005 was $6 billion. That number could skyrocket to at least 1 trillion annually by 2050. According to a new study, storm surges alone could increase costs from the current level of about $10-40 billion per year to up to $100,000 billion per year by the end of century. The World Bank analysis indicates that more than 40 percent of these costs could come from just four cities, three American and one Chinese (New Orleans, Miami and New York in the U.S. and Guangzhou in China).

Delays in engaging climate change are proving to be very costly. In the last two years alone delays in adopting mitigation and adaptation efforts have already cost us $8 trillion. The longer we wait the higher the price tag. A cost benefit analysis convincingly demonstrates the logic of paying now rather than later. Driven by a bottom line mentality, many large firms are engaging the risks and costs associated with climate change. A recent CDP report reveals that some of the world's biggest brands see the merits of taking action to deal with flooding and other corollaries of climate change.

A study from the Global Climate Forum (GCF) illustrates the merits of investing in adaptation to address risks from flooding. “If we ignore this problem, the consequences will be dramatic,” explained Jochen Hinkel from GCF and the study’s lead author.

We cannot afford to ignore the problem any longer. Unless we seriously engage mitigation and adaptation efforts, the costs of flooding will only get worse.

Source: Global Warming is Real

Related Articles
Graphs - Global Cost of Flooding
Balken Flooding and the Costs of Climate Change
Unprecedented UK Flooding and Climate Change
UK Flooding and the Science of Climate Change
Attribution Science and UK Storms and Flooding
Video - UK Storms and Flooding in February 2014
Video - UK Storms and Flooding in January 2014
Massive Flooding in the UK is Driving People to Accept the Veracity of Climate Change
Petition in Support of UK Flood Victims and Against Fossil Fuel Subsidies
Devastating UK Flooding Continues
Heavy Rains Link Climate Change and Landslides
Heavy Rains in Egypt Followed by Sandstorms
Infographic - Sea Level Rise
Antarctic Glaciers Pass the Point of No Return
Visualizing Sea Level Rises from Climate Change
Infographic - People Living Less than 5m Above Sea Level
The Costs of Flood Damage will Rise Along with Sea Levels
Melting Arctic Ice and Flooding
Biblical Colorado Flooding and the Cost of Climate Change
Unprecedented Heavy Rains in Japan and Climate Change Impacts in the Summer of 2013
Flooding from Climate Change will Submerge 1700 US Cities by 2100
Video - Sea Level Rise: A Slow-Motion Disaster
Video - Forced Migration from Sea Level Rise: The Marshallese are Losing their Homeland
UCS Facts Sheet on Global Warming and Sea Level Rise
Global Warming and Sea Level Rises on the US East Coast
Infographic - Sea Level Rise and Global Warming
Extreme Weather and the Costs of Climate Change
Global Extreme Weather 2013 Timeline (Tiki-Toki)
Tornadoes and Floods Underscore the Costs of Global Warming

No comments: