People in Florida and along the Southeast coast of the U.S. will be among those most likely to be forced to relocate when the oceans rise later this century. Where will they go?
Artificial Intelligence researchers at the University of Southern California say planners in land-locked cities such as Atlanta, Houston, Austin and Las Vegas need to start paying attention. These are the likely places, according to the USC researchers, that people fleeing the coast will settle in.
If the worst projections of sea-level rise are borne out, as many as 13 million people in the U.S. could be forced to leave their homes by 2100, the study says.
The top projected destination? Austin, Texas.
I have nothing against Austin, Atlanta and the rest. In fact I’ve heard nice things about all these places (Not so sure about Vegas, though). But on the whole, I’d rather stay in Florida.
That may not be an option. A map of the U.S. projecting almost 6 feet of sea-level rise by 2100 shows a mass of blue enveloping the peninsula of Florida, signifying places invaded by lots of salt water. In fact, the map included in the artificial intelligence USC study paints a dire picture for much of the East and Gulf coasts.
But consider: Artificial intelligence is a powerful tool. It’s not prophecy.
We can have a better outcome. We can protect our cities and shoreline from rising seas. We can choose to stop burning fossil fuels in our cars and power plants and reduce the CO2 heating up the climate. We can use mass transit. We can petition our government leaders and talk to our neighbors.
In the battle cry of Florida’s champion climate change denier, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, “Let’s get to work!”
John Burr has more than 30 years experience as an editor and reporter in Northeast Florida, and is a member of the Jacksonville chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby.
“The Invading Sea” is the opinion arm of the Florida Climate Reporting Network, a collaborative of news organizations across the state focusing on the threats posed by the warming climate.