polis: The Real Cost of Climate Change in Cities
Politically motivated underestimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are a severe threat to cities in the short and long term. In its last report, the IPCC does not seriously consider the meltdown and detachment of the two largest ice sheets at the planet’s poles, which could precipitate an “albedo flip” (critically reducing the earth’s capacity to reflect radiation), as James Hansen suggests in “Climate Change and Trace Gases” (PDF). In Hansen’s words, “the Earth is getting perilously close to climate changes that could run out of our control.”
Under pressure from large polluters, the IPCC calculated a probable 0.4-meter sea level rise. Considering all available scientific evidence, the rise will most likely reach several meters. The complete meltdown of the Greenland and West Antarctica ice sheets would cause a 13-meter rise; even a fraction of this would be a global catastrophe. Under these conditions, most of the world’s largest cities (Tokyo, New York, Seoul, Mumbai, LA, Manila, Shanghai, Jakarta, Karachi, Rio, Istanbul, Lagos, etc.) and smaller cities would have to confront the disastrous effects of rising temperatures and sea levels.