Rising sea levels due to climate change pose a severe threat to the colleges in the United States as they run the risk of being submerged in the coming decades.
So, are these institutions planning to move to safer locations? Apparently, not.
Key West, Florida
At the Florida Keys Community College, they presently have no designs to transfer from their base location anytime in the future. They have moved the greater part of the institution so that now it is over the floodplain. The authorities are confident that the buildings have been constructed at raised levels to protect from floods.
A climate model states that in Galveston ninety percent of habitable land will be underwater by 2100.
Climate change and such dire predictions do not seem to deter institutions like Texas A&M University that continue to expand their facilities in the region. In 2008 this town was devastated by the hurricane. Since then, the population of this island campus has doubled to three thousand students.
This campus is considered as a “living laboratory” as the students pursue oceanographic subjects. And as such, it may not make much sense to be far away from this location even though the dangers are significant.
Hoboken, New Jersey
Professor Philip Orton of “Stevens Institute of Technology” is not overly concerned about the safety of his campus at the moment.
Studies have shown that many of the urban communities in the coastal region of the US could be submerged in only decades. Even so, colleges situated in the coastal landscapes from Texas to New Jersey continue to expand their building constructions in this region under the hope that the predicted calamities will not be a problem till the end of the century.
Kristina Dahl, who is an expert in climate studies, warns against this optimism. She says, “For many places, especially on the East and Gulf Coast, they could see significant impacts in just the next 30 years or so.”
Perhaps the university authorities are not panicking due to the uncertainties around models which predict the changes in sea level. As Prof Orton says,
“We still don’t have a precise timeline for how sea levels will change. We can hope sea level rise takes a lower track, and that the Antarctic ice doesn’t rapidly melt this century. But if we don’t do anything about emissions, then it’s guaranteed over centuries we will see many, many feet of sea level rise, and it will be catastrophic for coastal areas.”
For now, the colleges have decided to be resilient and cautious rather than abandon their communities in fear of climate change.