Global reset: facing our future

Climate change’s effect on coastal cities

Torrential storms submerged Houston in two feet of rain last week, leading to flooding in the streets and forcing emergency personnel to rescue stranded citizens.

These floods could be a preview into future weather conditions, where climate change may cause coastal cities in states like Florida, Louisiana and California to lose land.

Rochelle Younan-Montgomery, the Associate Program Director for the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE), believes that California cities could face a variety of problems, including sea level rise, pollution, and heat waves.

“We might start seeing sea level rise in the Bay Area, also I know that specifically pregnant women who live near freeways are more susceptible to having complications in pregnancy and the infants in utero are at risk,” she said. “Also with increased heat waves, children and elderly folks are the most vulnerable. Heat-related death, I think, is the number one reason folks are impacted.”

According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, sea level rise will cover land where 6.2 million people live. Coastal cities especially are in danger of flooding due to sea level rise, creating an infrastructure problem.

GraphicVineet Kosaraju

“The question is for us in the city environment is how are we going to cope in place like South Florida or Metro Miami with all of our particular challenges,” said Dr. Colin Polsky, Director of the Florida Center for Environmental Studies. “The answer is that some of our neighborhoods are going to have to turn into waterlands, and we are going to have to rebuild some of our neighborhoods and we are going to have to start building some buildings in a different way. That’s a big deal, and it’s going to have to require a lot of collaboration.”

Although several coastal cities are in danger of flooding, the consequences can be curbed through reducing carbon emissions, with help from students.

“It’s just believing that young people have the collective power to make a change, and that it’s happened before and will happen again, and doing one thing in a small way in your own life can actually make a huge difference if enough of us are doing it,” Younan-Montgomery said.

This piece was originally published in the pages of the Winged Post on May 4, 2016.