Inaction on Climate Change Will Leave Us Lost at Sea | NRDC

Sea level is expected to rise steadily though slowly in the foreseeable future. A direct consequence of sea level rise is the inundation and flooding, inflicting considerable economic and ecological damages. The challenges for coastal communities and policymakers are to determine what is the appropriate adaptation strategy to mitigate the damages when to implement it, and more importantly how to rally public support. To address these challenges, we aim to formulate an interdisciplinary framework to ensure scientifically sound decision-making. We propose an analytical framework that integrates economics, climate sciences, and urban planning for analyzing the costs and benefits of different sea-level rise adaptation strategies. To select the appropriate adaptation strategy, we compare the net benefits of different adaptation strategies as the difference between damages mitigated by new adaptation and the status quo.  One of the key aspects of the study is to determine the “tipping points” defined as the threshold when the less cost-efficient strategy is no longer feasible or cost-efficient. The time scales of different adaptation strategies can be compared. We further incorporate resident’s preferences into calculating the net benefits and analyze the extent to which the perceived benefits from these adaptation strategies are associated with social and demographic characteristics of Miami’s residents in order to develop an effective public awareness program.

The principal component of this study is to develop an analytical framework to assess of the economic costs and benefits of different adaptation strategies at different time scales. The effectiveness of a new adaptation is measured by the net benefit defined as the difference between the damages mitigated by the new adaptation and the damages mitigated by the current adaptation minus the implementation cost of the new adaptation. The project contributes to the literature by integrating economics, urban planning, and climate sciences to public policy by providing a novel approach for local governments to make scientifically sound public policies for adaptation.  To our knowledge, a tipping point framework is a novel approach in sea-level-rise-related research in particular, and in climate-change-related policy research in general.

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