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Climate and Environment

Santiago Saez Moreno
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piqer: Santiago Saez Moreno
Monday, 09 July 2018

Climate Change Will Displace The Poor From Their Neighbourhoods

Sea-level rise is one of the most feared, and often misunderstood, consequences of climate change. As oceans warm up, effects such as polar cap melting and thermal expansion are expected to push the coastlines up by 0.75 to 2 meters this century. The global average sea-level rise in the last two decades is around 3.2 millimeters.

There are other damages in addition to land loss. Salt water is expected to pollute freshwater reservoirs, and storm surges will reach further inland. Small islands and coastal communities will be subjected to harsher weather conditions. But there's more.

As usual with climate change, those most vulnerable are more likely to suffer the worst consequences—even if they don’t live by the sea. This article by Richard Florida for CityLab introduces the concept of climate gentrification, a theory that, while “still emerging and not yet clearly defined,” brings a very relevant question to the debate: Is climate change a driving factor in the displacement of disadvantaged urban communities?

Nowhere is this phenomenon more clearly visible than in coastal towns. Many of the world’s great cities have historically developed around harbors and estuaries. New York, London, Tokyo and many others are among the most vulnerable cities to sea-level rise. In these and other coastal cities, real estate prices in elevated areas are rising. The study at the base of this article focuses on Miami:

“As water level rise and flooding increases, Miami will segregate along new lines, with the poor pushed farther into the region’s hinterlands, or perhaps out of the region altogether—exacerbating the substantial spatial inequality that already defines the region.”

This is not the first time I read about this phenomenon. The Guardian and the New Yorker recently wrote about it too. However, this one for CityLab is the most detailed and well-sourced article I’ve found. It does lack the human angle and instead focuses on the figures, so if you find it a bit dry, do head to the New Yorker and get the full tour.

Climate Change Will Displace The Poor From Their Neighbourhoods
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