Forthcoming Publication: The ability of societies to adapt to 21st century sea-level rise
Against the background of possible substantial sea-level rise, an important question is, to what extent are coastal societies able to adapt? This question is often answered in the negative by referring to sinking islands and submerged mega-cities. While these risks are real, the picture is incomplete because it lacks consideration of adaptation. This Perspective explores societies’ abilities to adapt to 21st century sea-level rise by integrating perspectives from coastal engineering, economics, finance and social sciences, and provides a comparative analysis of a set of cases that vary in technological limits, and economic, financing, and social conflict barriers to coastal adaptation.