Monday, November 23, 2009

Sea level rise could cost port cities $28 trillion

Peter Wilkinson on CNN's website: A possible rise in sea levels by 0.5 meters by 2050 could put at risk more than $28 trillion worth of assets in the world's largest coastal cities, according to a report compiled for the insurance industry. The value of infrastructure exposed in so-called "port mega-cities," urban conurbations with more than 10 million people, is just $3 trillion at present.

The rise in potential losses would be a result of expected greater urbanization and increased exposure of this greater population to catastrophic surge events occurring once every 100 years caused by rising sea levels and higher temperatures.

The report, released on Monday by WWF and financial services Allianz, concludes that the world's diverse regions and ecosystems are close to temperature thresholds -- or "tipping points." Any one of these surge events could unleash devastating environmental, social and economic changes amid a higher urban population.

According to the report, carried out by the UK-based Tyndall Centre, the impacts of passing "Tipping Points" on the livelihoods of people and economic assets have been underestimated. Global temperatures have already risen by at least 0.7 degrees Celsius and the report says a further rise by 2-3 degrees in the second half of the century is likely unless deep cuts in emissions are put in place before 2015….

High tide in Venice's Piazza San Marco, shot by EVenise, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

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