Sinking cities, rising seas: a perfect storm of climate change and bad development choices

This paper looks at the impact of sea level rise on eight cities worldwide, exploring some of the underlying reasons for vulnerability, and then the additional impact that climate change will have on their people. These cities include some of those most vulnerable to climate change. The cities studied include Jakarta, Bangkok, Lagos, Manila, Dhaka, Shanghai, London and Houston. In each case, the location of the city was chosen without any idea of the future scale of population living there. Bad development decisions, and a lack of recognition of the carrying capacities of the land are being exacerbated by sea level rise from human-induced climate change. To protect the inhabitants of these cities, the causes of the subsidence, where possible, should be addressed and measures to increase the cities’ resilience should be urgently implemented. Protection of the poorest and most vulnerable communities must be a priority. Of greatest urgency, these case studies underscore the need for greater and more rapid greenhouse gas emissions reductions to reduce the amount of sea level rise – and the threats that it poses.