Significant sea level rise (SLR) is inevitable. Whatever scenario plays out, we’ll have to take steps to mitigate and adapt to more coastal flooding and higher storm surges. The latest projections, based on new understanding of the potential impact of melting in Antarctica, suggest oceans will rise by 1.3 meters (4′ 3″) by 2100 even if the world keeps within the Paris Agreement target of limiting temperature rise to 2°C (3.6°F). This level is 50% above the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2015 authoritative projection. However, new research done at the University of Melbourne, was reported on in the Guardian by Michael Slezak entitled “Sea Levels to rise 1.3m unless coal power ends by 2050, report says.” The article cites the new paper, which looked at all the factors contributing to SLR, suggests that if coal power generation falls to near zero by 2050 (only 13 years from now), carbon emissions would decrease enough to keep global temperature rise below 1.9°C. Less use of coal would also mean that drastic Antarctic melting would not be triggered, thus halving the estimated SLR. Even if you don’t personally live near a coast, millions of people do. Surely avoiding 2 feet of repeated urban flooding should be enough incentive to start advocating a rapid transition to low-carbon energy and urging all coastal and tidal municipalities to take all feasible steps to prevent or minimize as much disruptive flooding as possible.
As a civil engineering student, I take our changing climate as a significant challenge that directly impacts the work we do and the infrastructure we build. Climate change is seen in various ways such as rising global temperatures, more frequent and extreme weather events along with rising sea