We’re all going to die. And so will our progeny, and our progeny’s progeny, until the day that someone titrates the elixir of life in a billionaire’s petri dish. Until then, though, we should probably keep an eye out for what’s happening with sea level rise, which a recent White House report noted could increase six feet by the year 2100–and quite a bit during our lifetimes.
A new Google Maps plug-in from CarbonStory, a crowdfunding platform for environmental initiatives, along with marketing agencies BBDO and Proximity Singapore, attempts to show what a six-foot sea level rise could look like in your hometown. But, as many have noted, World Under Water is actually not that accurate, as it doesn’t take into account elevation and climate mitigation barriers. (For an example, just look up the town of Alma, Colorado, which sits 10,578 feet above sea level and still shows six feet of flooding in the model.) Still, it’s a compelling way to visualize how much water will actually inundate some coastal areas over time.
What the map doesn’t show, however, is storm surge alone. Sea level rise means that during hurricanes, which scientists suggest will become fiercer and more frequent as a result of man-made climate change, more feet of water will rush ashore. Hurricane Katrina, for example, carried a 28-foot storm surge–and some research suggests that storms like Katrina will become seven times more frequent.
Roughly 5 million people in the United States live on coastlines less than four feet above high tide, according to Climate Central, which makes them particularly vulnerable to flooding. To explore what a storm surge during a flood might look like where you live, check out Climate Central’s interactive map.