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Abandon or Embrace: Sea Level Rise and Coastal Populations

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By now both sides of the story are painfully clear: 1) we are responsible, 2.) the planet is responsible. And then there are the skeptics. Either way sea level rise has been getting a lot of attention lately. However, it seems this polemic argument is very near-sighted. One side trying to raise awareness, the other trying calm the alarm. Each focused on proving a point, which takes time away from the heavy lead times involved in making actionable decisions. Let’s presume for the sake of this post that sea level rise is a fact. Let’s also take the worst case scenario that in the next 100 years due to rapid glacial melt and antarctic dissolution, that we can expect to see up to 4 feet of rise. This calls into question the very identity of coastal populations, 15 of which happen to be the largest cities on the planet (NYC, Cairo, Tokyo, Sao Paulo to name a few). Some of these major cities have already been confronted with the decision to abandon or protect their territories and have begun to enter into a new relationship with the sea.   While this argumentative chatter can and has filled volumes, there are some designers and politicians dedicated to applying physical solutions to what is a very existential threat.

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