From time immemorial, human beings have settled near water. But as sea levels rise and weather becomes more extreme, that proximity is becoming a drawback, and in the years to come will put hundreds of millions of people around the globe in the path of frequent floods, new research suggests. By the end of the century, nearly 290 million people — equal to the population of Canada, Mexico and all of Central America combined — could be affected by repeat flooding, according to a study published Thursday in Nature . The related economic damage could be vast, equivalent to up to 20% of global GDP. Notably, that flooding is likely to happen whether or not the world takes action to sharply cut emissions in the coming decades, the researchers conclude. They considered two scenarios: One in which the usage of fossil fuels increase and carbon emissions continue rise, and another in which emissions peak around 2040 and then start to fall. They found a similar amount of flooding in both cases. “Surprisingly, the global flooding under the lower greenhouse gas case is not that much lower,” Ian Young, one of the authors of the study, said in an email. That’s… Read full this story
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