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The Water Will Come

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The Water Will Come

Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World

Little, Brown US,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

As ancient ice sheets melt rapidly, rising seas will swamp the world’s coastal cities.

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  • Comprehensive
  • Scientific
  • Concrete Examples


According to journalist Jeff Goodell, rising seas will drown coastal cities, displacing hundreds of millions of people and causing trillions of dollars in damage. Modern people – unlike their seawise ancestors – cling to coastal land, barricade it and build vulnerable fixed infrastructures like nuclear power plants. Inevitably, Goodell says, as glaciers melt at an unprecedented rate, “the water will come.” The author traveled widely to understand this unfolding catastrophe, speaking with its victims and with those who can limit its effects. His compelling primer will appeal to influencers, leaders, change managers and concerned citizens.


Imagine a Future Apocalypse  

Consider this scenario of a possible future catastrophe: In a hurricane, a 20-foot [6-meter] storm surge engulfs most of Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach. Sea levels, up more than a foot since the early 2000s, make South Florida susceptible to such surges. Hundreds die – some in the panic after the false news of a reactor breach at the Turkey Point nuclear power station. Miami’s lackluster sea defenses fail quickly. The waters rise, swamping buildings and bringing crocodiles into the dying city. Miami becomes a popular place to go diving – a modern real-life Atlantis. 

Sea-Level Rise

The science of climate change – global warming, melting ice sheets, rising seas – says this fictional future scenario is possible. Hurricane Katrina’s devastation of New Orleans and Hurricane Sandy’s 2012 pounding of New York foreshadow such disasters. Rising sea levels will exacerbate storms’ effects. At a posh event about sea-level rise hosted by the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce, one broker complained of a “fear-fest” when University of Miami geologist Hal Wanless talked of catastrophic sea...

About the Author

Rolling Stone editor and award-winning author Jeff Goodell writes on modern environmental and energy issues. His other books include How to Cool the Planet, Sunnyvale and Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future.

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