Rising seas may cost Delaware $9B over 20 years (Maddy Lauria)

“As Arctic ice continues to melt and emissions drive up air and land temperatures in coming decades, can Delaware afford to protect people and property from rising seas? Possibly, but it won’t be cheap.”

A new study by the nonprofit Center for Climate Integrity estimates that it would cost the First State more than $9 billion in the next two decades (Sussex County at least $4B, Kent County $2.8B, New Castle County $2.7B) to build seawalls needed to hold back floods and tides under a modest increase in sea level. And since seaside communities, unable to pay the cost, “will be forced to retreat” says Richard Wiles of the CCI, “polluters must pay their fair share.”

The CCI report was released on Thursday, one day after the Trump administration announced its replacement for the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. And the nationwide estimate for coastal communities around the country was $400 billion on seawalls before 2040 to stave off rising seas and flooding that threaten public infrastructure like roads and schools.

The premise for all this: “Greenhouse gas emissions from man-made sources such as burning fossil fuels are trapped in the atmosphere,” driving up air, land and water temperatures. As water warms, molecules expand, and combined with historic rates of Arctic ice melting, scientists think waters could rise more than 2 feet by the end of the century.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report last year concluded that fossil fuel use must drop dramatically in the next 20 years to avoid a climate crisis, which would include water scarcity, floods, droughts, extreme heat, stronger storms, biodiversity loss and accelerated sea level rise.

The Mid-Atlantic is already in a global hot spot for sea level rise (SLR). As the lowest- lying state in the nation, parts of Delaware are seeing SLR at twice the international average, according to Delaware Sea Grant data. DE officials say local SLR has been “over 1 foot” in the last century.

Whatever protective measures might be chosen – seawalls, living shorelines, or retreating from vulnerable areas – would be costly. And the big unanswered question is who will bear the “brunt of these costs.” Probably not small, rural communities. State and federal governments “may be able to chip in, but probably cannot afford to shell out the billions of dollars needed in the next decade or two. Ergo, said Mr. Wiles, “The entirety of the fossil fuel industry needs to be responsible for literally bailing out communities.” For more see
https://www.preventionweb.net/news/view/66112.

Comment: This is propaganda, not an objective assessment, and the timing of the study release was no accident. Among other things, the discussion ignores the likelihood that a large part of the observed SLR along the Delaware coast is due to land subsidence versus rising seas. Also, most of the real flooding problems have been due to storm surges vs. SLR.
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