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Building Seawalls To Protect Vulnerable U.S. Locations From Rising Sea Levels Will Cost $400 Billion

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Communities across the country are spending billions to protect themselves and their properties from flooding due to the rise in sea level. Places such as Miami Beach, San Francisco, Atlantic City, and Charleston, South Carolina are already building seawalls.   ( Hermann Traub | Pixabay )

The cost of climate change is not something that is easy to compute, and even now communities are spending billions to protect themselves from its effects. When it comes to sea level rise, coastal communities are the most at risk, and a new study finds that protecting ourselves from it will come at a hefty price.

Seawalls Against Rising Sea Levels

A new study conducted by the Center for Climate Integrity provides an estimate of what protecting ourselves from climate change could cost, specifically when it comes to the rising sea level. The researchers focused on one possible protective measure against it, and that is how much building seawalls would cost the nation.

All in all, the researchers found that building 50,000 miles of seawalls across the country would cost a hefty $400 billion, with Florida having to spend $75.9 billion for 9,243 miles of seawalls. Following Florida as the most costly state is Louisiana, which will have to shell out $38 billion. North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland are following closely behind with expected expenditure of $34.8 billion, $31 billion, and $27 billion respectively.

When it comes to cities, Jacksonville, Florida comes first with an expected cost of $3.4 billion, followed by New York costing $1.9 billion, and Virginia Beach costing $1.7 billion.

These figures are based on the predicted sea level rise in the next 20 years

The Cost Of Climate Change

The data is relevant, because states and municipalities need to take these protective measures into account, to determine where to get the funding for such projects. What’s more, seawalls are just one of the many measures we need to take to protect ourselves from sea level rise, as well as the other effects of climate change such as droughts, public health issues, and extreme weather events.

Even now, places such as Miami Beach in Florida and San Francisco, California are already experiencing chronic flooding from sea level rise, and have started seawall building projects in response. Even small cities such as DelRay Beach in Florida have also started to compute the possible cost of building seawalls, improving pipes, and elevating roads, and have determined that even a small city like theirs need $378 million for the projects.

But apart from the price tags of seawalls, the researchers also laid down the question of who will have to pay for the projects. Clearly, these numbers seem dreadful for any community that will have to pay to protect themselves and their properties, but there is also the question of whether the companies that continue to profit from the very same products that are causing the climate crisis must take responsibility and pay.

These are things that have to be taken into serious consideration, not just in the long-run, but even now especially since many places are already experiencing chronic flooding or the other consequences of climate change.

“The conclusions of the study can provide the basis for an informed discussion about alternative courses of action and additional sources of revenue beyond raising taxes for necessary adaptation projects,” the researchers note.

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