Rising sea levels will claim 316 U.S. cities and — if greenhouse gas emissions are not curbed — that number could rise to 1,400 cities, according to a new study released Monday.
It is already too late to avoid the sea level rise of four feet that will submerge 316 cities and municipalities. At this rate, Miami will be under water by 2041.
Coastal regions from the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific will be affected by the rise. Miami, New Orleans, San Mateo, Atlantic City and Virginia Beach are some of the most vulnerable areas.
If the current trend in emissions continues, an additional 1,100 cities will be inundated. According to the projected data, by 2100 much of Florida and southeast Louisiana will be under water.
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"It's like this invisible threat," said Benjamin Strauss, an author of the study and a scientist at Climate Central, a non-profit, non-advocacy research group based in Princeton, N.J.
Strauss explained that sea levels are higher than what is predicted because the affects of climate change are multiplied over time. Changing emissions now will affect the future of climate change, but it is not enough to reverse the sea level rise occurring right now, he said. Carbon will remain in the atmosphere for centuries.
"Even if we could just stop global emissions tomorrow on a dime, Fort Lauderdale, Miami Gardens, Hoboken, N.J., will be under sea level," Strauss told the Guardian.
After a certain point in time, each city will be locked in to flooding: Galveston, Texas (2030); Miami and New Orleans(2040); Norfolk, Va., (2044); Coral Gables, Fla. (2044) and Virginia Beach (2054).
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The only way to avoid the catastrophic loss of hundreds of municipalities, Strauss said, is by making deep, global pollution cuts and use technology that would remove carbon from the atmosphere.