2.2.2 Loss of homes due to rising seas

"The shock for us was that tidal flooding could become the new normal in the next 15 years; we didn’t think it would be so soon… If you live on a coast and haven’t seen coastal flooding yet, just give it a few years. You will."
Dr. Melanie Fitzpatrick, climate scientist with the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Climate Program

"[The impacts of tidal flooding] are happening and will be devastating for coastal communities."
Andrew Shepherd, Professor of Earth Observation at the University of Leeds

Rising seas are already displacing hundreds of thousands of people from vulnerable coastal areas in the South Pacific, Indonesia and Bangladesh, and climate displacement is already well underway in places such as Vietnam. Over the past six decades, much of the Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana - once home to 400 people - has disappeared due to subsidence caused by oil and gas extraction and now rising sea levels. In November 2019 it was reported that five whole Pacific Islands - part of the Solomon Islands - have now been entirely lost to rising sea levels, with a further six having large parts of their coastline eroded, destroying entire villages.

As a result of a combination of subsidence and rising sea levels, a storm that hit Venice in 2019 caused the worst floods in 50 years and left Saint Mark’s Square submerged under more than one metre of water. Saint Mark’s Basilica has only flooded six times in the past in 1,200 years; four of these floods were in the last 20 years, with the last one only one year before.

Many coastal cities in the United States are now seeing ‘nuisance flooding’ at high tide closing roads, blocking drains and damaging infrastructure. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Organization such flooding has already "increased in the U.S. on average by about 50 percent since 20 years ago and 100 percent since 30 years ago". Experts say that, for those living in coastal areas, tidal flooding could become the new normal in the next 15 years.