Monday, April 21, 2014

Engineering and the Vulnerability of U.S. Coastal Infrastructure

The risks of climate change and extreme weather events should be clear to people and communities along our national coastlines.  I am not sure we have come to gripes with the likely consequences.  Thirty nine percent of the population lives in coastal shoreline countries.  This population grew by 39% between 1970 and 2010, and is projected to grow by 8.3% by 2020.  The population density of coastal countries is 446 people per square mile which is over four times that of inland counties.

Consider the following statistics:
  • $6.6 trillion contribution to GDP of the coastal shoreline counties, just under half of U.S. GDP in 2011.
  • Total number of jobs is 51 million in the coastal communities in 2011.
  • $2.8 trillion in wages paid out to employers working at establishments in 2011.
  • Ranks #3 in global GDP (behind the United States and China) if coastal communities were considered a separate country.
  • The expected increase in the coastal communities density - 37 persons per square mile - a projected 8.3% increase.
Check out the excellent Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises by the National Research Council.

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