Economists who are studying the change in sea levels around the world think the United States is going to take a major financial hit, especially in the coastal states. A 2 degree Celsius rise in the earth’s temperature would impact the people that live below a 16 feet elevation. That means 500 million people worldwide, and more than 100 million people in the United States would have to change the way they live. That change means relocating to higher ground. But in many areas of the country, society can’t handle an influx of misplaced American refugees that are running from flood conditions in their cities and towns, and that means more costs.
The economic impact of such a scenario would be monumental as well as devastating, according to Christian Broda, the former economics professor at the University of Chicago. Broda manages investments for Duquesne Capital Management in New York. He thinks the rise in sea levels is going to have an impact on the economy, but he, like other economists, isn’t sure how bad it is going to be. The reason Broda and others don’t know how bad the economic hit will be is no one is sure when the country and the world will cut back enough on fossil fuel use to stop the temperature increase.
Broda said that if the country and the world immediately reduces the amount of greenhouse gasses that are clogging the atmosphere, sea levels will continue to rise because of the warming that has taken place, but the increase will be less than projected. If the country and the world keeps emitting the current amount of gas into the atmosphere, sea levels could rise by more than 31 inches over the next 30 years.
The fact is, sea levels will continue to rise, and the American economy will suffer because of it. Even if the earth stops warming, sea levels will still increase because of the lag time between the ice sheet melting and the movement of ocean currents. The loss of property in cities like New York, Boston, Miami, New Orleans and Tampa would be more than $90 billion, according to some economists, and that is just the beginning of the loss. No one has put an exact dollar amount on the sea level loss, but economists know it is going to be life-changing for millions of people in the United States, and that change could happen within the next 30 years.