Ever heard of a climate refugee? If not, familiarize yourself, because according to Andrew David Thaler of Southern Fried Science, the world is going to have a lot more climate refugees to deal with by the year 2100. Climate refugees are people displaced by climate induced events – like flooding or hurricanes. Rising seal levels could threaten coastal cities in the next 100 years, and the World Bank estimates that hey could cost cities $1 trillion if they don’t adapt.
Thaler has recently achieved internet stardom thanks to Drown Your Town, a climate change outreach initiative that’s been spreading like wildfire (excuse the mixed metaphor). Drown Your Town is a resource that uses Google Earth to show people what their town would look like if the global sea level rises by 80 meters.
Thaler first drowned San Francisco for a book project and hasn’t stopped since. Over the course of the last couple of months, he’s had over 2,000 requests to drown different towns worldwide.
Thaler already has a “fairly intensive marine science outreach program” through his website Southern Fried Science, but Drown Your Town (also know as #DrownYourTown) has offered a unique opportunity to educate a wider range of people about climate change. Thaler said interest from countries like France and Croatia has offered him access to a completely new audience.
Fusion asked Thaler if there were any particularly notable results that came out of his Drown Your Town marathon last month. He shared the following:
Nagoya, Japan: Sadly, Nagoya’s 9 million residents are probably going to have to find a new place to call home. Thaler was shocked to find that “when we did a meter of sea level rise, which is well within our expectations for before 2100, almost the entire town was completely inundated. It was dramatic.”
Manila, Philippines: The capital city of the Philippines also yielded some surprising results in the simulations: it would be totally underwater.
Kirabati: Thaler notes that the small Pacific Isle of Kiribati (pronounced Kirabas) will “simply not exist in a hundred years.” The government of Kiribati has already made plans to move people to Sri Lanka.