One of the perennial discussions in climate circles is about which impacts will break through the noise and apathy to finally galvanize people to do something about the problem. The usual suspects are droughts and food shortages, since they’re expected to bite first.
My own dark-horse candidate has been sea level rise. As I wrote last year, the carbon in the atmosphere today has already “locked in” enough sea level rise to swamp hundreds of coastal cities and towns around the world. Some 316 settlements in the lower 48 states, with a cumulative 3.6 million residents, are already doomed. If we continue on our current trajectory, 1,400 American towns and cities will eventually, inevitably be lost to the ocean.