Sea level rising could displace 65,000 Beaufort County residents in the next 80 years, according to study


BEAUFORT, Sc. (WSAV) – A new study predicts that by the end of this century, more than 65,000 Beaufort County residents may have to leave their homes on the coast and move inland due to sea level rising.

The study published in the Nature Climate Change Journal found that 13 million people living on the coasts of the US could be displaced by year 2100.

“Sea level rise is caused by melting ice on the polar ice caps, and also, when it gets hotter, the water expands,” said Chris Marsh, chair of Beaufort-Port Royal Sea Level Rising Task Force.

He says it’s “due to the amount of carbon dioxide that’s been put out through industrial revolution since the 1800’s, plus methane that has caused the Earth’s atmosphere to act like a blanket, or a greenhouse, to hold more heat in.”

The study projects the sea to rise anywhere from three to six feet in the next 80 years…if no action is taken, it says 65,000 residents in Hilton Head, Bluffton, and Beaufort will have to leave.

Alice Howard with Beaufort County Council said, “It’s an addendum and  part of our comprehensive plan to know where these areas are going to be so that we’re ready for the future, not putting large developments in areas that might not be a good idea to.”

And we’re not the only ones… 75,000 could be displaced in Charleston, and more than 100,000 in Charlotte.

The study projects folks will feed into inland cities like Atlanta, which could see a population increase of up to a quarter of a million.

“It’s the same sort of preparation we need for hurricanes,” said Marsh, “Allow more buffer along the coast as far as where we build. We also have to accommodate meaning when we do construction, it needs to be prepared for great storm surge.”

Eric Montie, an associate professor of biology at the University of South Carolina Beaufort, says the best thing citizens can do is encourage their governments to reduce the use of fossil fuels. In our everyday lives, he says drive more fuel efficient cars, take public transportation, and the classic—reduce, reuse, and recycle.

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