Don’t move here — climate change is going to ruin it
Climate change is coming whether we deny it or not. While efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions will certainly have an impact on how harmful the change is, people are already feeling the stress around the world. Let’s put it this way, if climate change were Oprah, it would be shouting, “You get a flood! You get a flood! Everybody gets a flood!” So maybe don’t move to any of these places.
1. New Jersey, USA
As glaciers continue to melt, the water trapped in them seeps back into the ocean. This, in turn, raises sea level worldwide, endangering homes built close the ocean. In the coming decades, several cities and towns in New Jersey are at risk of major flooding. By 2060, about 50 percent of the livable land could be underwater in some New Jersey cities.
By 2100, the percentage jumps up to the 90s. These projections are modeled under the assumption that carbon emissions and ice sheet melting will continue at their current rate. In 60 years, “Jersey Shore” could be rebooted, but everyone would be shouting at each other while ankle deep in water.
2. Florida Keys, Florida
Southern Florida may disappear underwater right before our eyes. Climate change will cause sea levels to rise in two ways, one is because of ice melting, but the other is because water molecules actually expand when they’re warmer. So the water itself will take up more space and there will also be more of it in the ocean.
The Florida Keys are already experiencing troubling floods since most of the land is no more than five feet above sea level. In an attempt to reduce flooding issues, the Keys are raising some of their roads. But these will only be above sea level until perhaps 2040. By then, the Keys might look like Venice.
3. Napa Valley, California
Napa Valley may not be at risk of succumbing to the sea, but its famous wines are in serious trouble. So whether you were planning to start a vineyard in Napa or you’re simply a wine lover, you should be worried. Their perfect grape-growing climate is about to change.
While plenty of people will be able to stay in Napa, those connected to the wine business may find themselves in economic trouble if they can’t grow their grapes. In fact, Napa Valley is already feeling the weather fluctuations from climate change. Even little changes can affect grape flavor and yields.
4. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
In South America, no city is going to have a worse time than Rio de Janeiro. By next year, the city’s average temperature will already be one degree warmer than historic temperatures (some of this rise is due to climate change and some from urban expansion). One degree may not sound like a lot, but it has enormous effects.
Like many coastal cities, sea levels rising will flood parts of Rio. By 2100, we’ll likely be saying bye-bye to Copacabana beach. Plus, the city will face more disease and spreading. Dengue, respiratory illnesses, and cardiovascular diseases will probably become more common.
About 22 percent of Vietnam’s population lives in the Mekong River Delta region, which is in danger from rising sea levels. And while these people will probably have to move, something else in the region will be even harder to relocate: half of the country’s agriculture. Vietnam’s food supplies are at risk because of climate change.
But Vietnam’s climate change problems will affect more than just the people living there; the country produces tons of coffee, rice, tea, pineapples, citruses, and sugar that they export to other countries around the world. All of these crops could be affected by high temperatures, differences in rainfall, or flooding.
6. South Carolina, USA
Much like New Jersey, parts of South Carolina are at risk of flooding from rising sea levels. Several cities might see about half their land underwater by 2100. And while the ocean threatens to take over the state, they will see hotter days as well.
With hotter days, South Carolina will have a longer mosquito season and the air quality will suffer. By 2050, South Carolina is expected to have about 60 heatwave-level days per year, as opposed to the current 15. Heatwaves can be deadly, but at least the ocean will cool them off since it will be splashing at their knees.
7. Shanghai, China
If the worldwide average temperature warms by three degrees Celsius, which it’s on track to do, then nearly all of Shanghai will be underwater. With a river on one side, a river in the middle, and ocean on two other sides, this massive city faces a lot of rising water, making it the most vulnerable city in the world to flooding.
17.5 million people would have to move out of Shanghai if the temperature increases by three degrees Celsius. To avoid this, the city has been building a huge drainage system to remove water. They’re also building flood walls along the river and raising some walkways.
8. Metcalfe County, Kentucky
While some places are in danger of coastal flooding due to climate change, others face different dangers. The Environmental Protection Agency assessed the resilience of every county in the United States to figure out which would fare the best and worst while the climate changes. Metcalfe County, Kentucky came out on the bottom.
The scientists conducting the study looked at physical risks like flooding, but also at social aspects, culture, and infrastructure, which affect how well the county can adapt to the changing climate. While Metcalfe County faces a lower risk from climate events than other counties, it simply isn’t built to deal with them when they do come.
9. Osaka, Japan
Rising sea levels will overtake much of Osaka if average temperatures rise by three degrees Celsius. Since the city already faces typhoons and tsunamis, they have seawalls and coastal flooding defenses, but people aren’t sure if they’re actually effective. This is more than a bit concerning since sea levels are already rising around the city.
While it’s taking extraordinary effort around the world to get people to lower their contribution to climate change, communities now need to think about how to deal with the changing climate. While Osaka (and the world) must continue making efforts to reduce climate change, they also have to simultaneously prepare for the inevitable changes.
10. Hawaii, USA
Hawaii is a popular vacation spot, for now, but that’s likely going to change. You’d better visit Hawaii now before it changes too much from climate change. In the coming decades, some of the beaches will likely be underwater or eroded away. Some beaches are already eroding but it’s unclear when the massive changes will take place.
Along with flooding, Hawaii will see more heat-related illnesses, like dengue fever and cholera. The native plants an animals will have an even harder time surviving than they already are. Rainfall patterns will change, so there will be more drought and heavier rain. Weather will be more extreme on both ends.
11. The Maldives
The Maldives is often called the lowest country in the world because none of its land is higher than about six feet above sea level. And since these islands are surrounded by water (as islands are known to be), this puts the Maldives at huge risk to rising sea levels. Even a tiny bit more water will make that beautiful beach disappear.
The country’s past president wanted to move their entire population somewhere else, but instead, the government is building taller, artificial islands for everyone to live on. The Maldives may be a nice vacation spot right now, but their houses are dangerous when you consider the impending climate change.
12. Rhone Valley, France
Just like Napa Valley, France’s cradle of wine, Rhône Valley, is most likely going to lose its perfect grape-growing weather. Temperature changes affect the sugar content and acidity of grapes, causing them to have different flavors than the farmers, winemakers, and customers are used to.
Why do we keep using polar bears as the poster child for climate change when we have endangered wines? Maybe the impending loss of their favorite bottle will finally get people to take a stand against climate change. While nearly every grape-growing region in the world will have to reckon with a new climate, other areas will emerge as suitable land for vineyards.
13. Miami, Florida
Just like the Florida Keys, Miami and the rest of southeast Florida will almost certainly be drowned off the map by the end of the century. The city already faces “king tides,” which flood the downtown streets with knee-deep water. Concerningly, this is the new normal for Miami.
Miami is trying to build solutions to the coming sea-invasion. For example, a new high rise apartment building is being built on a slope so that its first floor is 12 feet above sea level. The problem is, it’s unclear exactly how high sea levels will rise. There are plenty of estimates, but some scientists say they are far too low. Either way, it’s hard to prepare when the future is still uncertain.
14. Mumbai, India
Even just two inches of sea level rise is enough to regularly flood Mumbai. And while some people talk about sea level rise in terms of inches and others in feet, it’s important to remember that sea level rise will not be the same throughout the world.
For example, as water melts off glaciers in the poles, it will actually move toward the equator. Around the Arctic and Antarctica, sea level may actually drop, but it will rise elsewhere. Like many coastal cities, Mumbai is already facing excessive flooding. It isn’t just a little inconvenient water to slosh through; people die in these floods and lose their property.
15. New York City, New York
The United States’ most populated city is at risk of flooding, too. New York City is nearly entirely surrounded by water, which puts it in an awkward situation for the changing climate. This somehow does not lower property costs and it’s still as expensive to live there as ever, even in neighborhoods already seeing the floods of climate change.
Over the course of this century and the next, New York will go from New York City to Venice to Atlantis. People could theoretically adapt their buses to gondolas, but no one’s going to sprout a mermaid tail by 2200 (but perhaps we’ll develop convenient underwater breathing technology).
16. Alaska, USA
While the United States is still debating over whether or not climate change is real, caused by humans, or a lie perpetuated by 97 percent of climate scientists, Alaska has been warming twice as fast as the lower 48 states. Glaciers are shrinking, sea ice is melting, and permafrost is thawing, leading to some wild ideas about resurrecting extinct species to solve the problem.
Just like California and other states, Alaska is facing an increased threat from wildfire. Plus, Alaska catches half of the country’s fish, which will likely be impacted by climate change. Even Alaska is facing longer mosquito seasons and the native wildlife will struggle to adapt to the changing climate.
17. Venice, Italy
Venice started out partly underwater, but it’s facing rising sea levels and flooding just like other coastal cities. While you might think the city can more easily adapt to these conditions, it isn’t necessarily true. The buildings were built for a particular sea level and now things that were never made to be continually submerged are always covered in water.
The city is plagued by so much flooding that it has different alarms for the amount of water. They’ve been working on a massive underwater gate project to protect the city from excess water, but the solution is highly controversial. Some think it won’t really work and that if the gates are used often enough, they’ll harm the harbor’s ecosystem.
Bangladesh is already one of the poorest countries in the world and climate change is certainly not helping that status. Since the 1970s, the country has taken leaps toward becoming a developed country, and yet climate change is threatening all their progress. Generally, poorer countries will feel the burn of climate change worse than others.
Scientists believe Bangladesh is experiencing the fastest sea level rising in the world. With two-thirds of the country merely 15 feet or less above sea level, this combination spells disaster. Many of their farms are along the coasts, too. People are already being forced to move inland, putting more stress on those cities.
Situated in the middle of the African continent, some say Chad is the most vulnerable country to the effects of climate change. While it isn’t situated along a coast, the country faces flooding from rain and is simply not prepared to respond to the troubles of climate change.
Chad’s weather is turning extreme; houses have been ruined by heavy rain. Cholera, malaria, and dengue fever are becoming more prevalent while the ever-important Lake Chad is shrinking. The lake is crucial for agriculture and fishing, but climate change is stealing it away from the 21 million people who rely on it.
Haiti’s story is the same as any other developing country near the ocean: they face rising sea levels, floods, droughts, and hurricanes, with few resources to deal with the aftermath. Haiti competes with Chad for the title of the most vulnerable country to climate change, which is probably the saddest competition ever.
While the country is subject to the wrath of hurricanes year after year, it’s unclear whether or not climate change is making these storms more common or not. But scientists do think that climate change makes hurricanes more intense and destructive, which are already abusing Haiti’s buildings and farms.
21. Alexandria, Egypt
Alexandria is still reeling from the loss of their great library, which succumbed to fire from Julius Caesar’s army a couple thousand years ago, but now they’re in danger from a new advance: the sea. The city’s main protection from the incoming sea is a wall built in 1830.
A wall built nearly a hundred years ago is surely not enough to protect the city from the next hundred years of flooding. One beach has already washed away, where the government has since built sea protection walls. The country’s agricultural lands are in danger, but they’re already struggling to feed their people.
22. Democratic Republic of Congo
While plenty of cities will face flooding from climate change, those in the tropics will experience the worst of the heat. The Democratic Republic of Congo is right on the equator and thus will directly feel the globe warming. While the climate turns extreme, it will most likely exacerbate the DRC’s major problems.
They already face political instability, poverty, and food issues, but these concerns will only grow as rain and drought become more intense. Amidst civil war, the country has to figure out how to protect its water supply and agriculture from the coming climate changes, while being the second least developed country in the world.
23. Yamal Peninsula, Russia
Far from the equator, the Yamal Peninsula in Russia is facing a different (but similar) set of problems. The area is getting unusual amounts of rain, which then freeze and cover pastures with ice. Generally, reindeer dig through snow to find food, but the ice keeps them from eating. Thousands have already starved.
People living on the Yamal Peninsula, the Nenets, herd these reindeer for a living. As the climate changes and makes it harder for the reindeer to survive, their way of life becomes increasingly more difficult to hold on to. Also, the permafrost is thawing and giving rise to more diseases.
One of Chile’s lakes has nearly disappeared due to a lack of rain. As a result, the local economy has suffered. People used to go to the lake for water sports, but the seven-year “mega-drought” has completely changed the environment and community. Climate change brought the immense drought to Chile.
Elsewhere in the country, farmers are in conflict over water. In the ocean, Chile faced a toxic “red tide” (a harmful algal bloom) as a result of warming ocean temperatures. The bloom is toxic to swimmers, but also kills millions of fish that normally people would eat. Accompanying the drought are severe wildfires. As a result, most Chileans believe climate change is their biggest problem.
Niger’s food is at great risk because of climate change. They’ve dealt with severe droughts for a few decades, which is trouble since they already have such little land suitable for agriculture. Plus, there is plenty of conflict in the area over the water supply.
The country has severe poverty, which is only exacerbated by the extreme weather patterns brought on by climate change. It’s hard to eat when drought keeps your crops from growing and your livestock from living. Since they are dealing with the very visible effects of climate change, the people are resistant to change out their wood burning for charcoal because of its greenhouse gas emissions.