Future Map of the U.S.

We learned last year that many of the effects of climate change are irreversible. Sea levels have been rising at a greater rate year after year, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates they could rise by another meter or more by the end of this century.

As National Geographic showed us , sea levels would rise by 216 feet if all the land ice on the planet were to melt. This would dramatically reshape the continents and drown many of the world's major cities.

Sea level rise caused by global warming is usually cast as a doomsday scenario that will play out so far into the future, it’s easy to ignore. Just ask anyone in South Florida, where new construction proceeds apace. Yet already, more than 90 coastal communities in the United States are battling chronic flooding, meaning the kind of flooding that’s so unmanageable it prompts people to move away.

That number is expected to roughly double to more than 170 communities in less than 20 years.

Those new statistics, compiled in the first comprehensive mapping of the entire coastline of the Lower 48 states, paint a troubling picture, especially for the East and Gulf coasts, which are home to some of the nation’s most populated areas.

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It’s the inclusion of that last option, and others, such as halting development along coastal areas at risk to flooding, that sets this study apart from others. Community groups in Miami, Norfolk, Virginia, and other vulnerable places along the coast are already planning, but are cautious about sounding the note of “retreat” too loudly, lest they crash the local economy decades prematurely.

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– How to identify biological weapons and chemicals thrown your way, understanding how they affect your body and what to do about it and also how to avoid it and stay safe.


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