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Could Boston be underwater in 50 years? How climate change is affecting our city

While 2016 may have ended weeks ago, climate change did not end with it. 2016 was the hottest year on record in New England, and based on the City of Boston’s Boston Climate Change Report, it looks as though the weather is not going to cool down for 2017.

In late August, Boston’s summer ranked as the sixth hottest summer on record with an average temperature of 82 degrees Fahrenheit, according to station NECN. The extreme heat paired with the lack of rainfall has caused an on-going drought in New England. According to the Boston Climate Change Report, these temperature and weather changes are due to climate change.

Not only was it one of the top ten hottest summers in Boston, but it was also very warm in the months of October through December. Hopeful meteorologists claim that New England has just ended their record three-year heat stretch, but others are more pessimistic, claiming that climate change has just begun and will continue to get hotter and hotter as the years go by, according to the City of Boston’s “Climate Ready” report.

As temperatures rise, more natural disasters, such as wildfires, occur, which can burn down homes and even entire forests, injuring and killing people in its path. The August 2016 flood in Louisiana that killed thirteen people was 40% more likely to happen because of climate change, according to Climate Central, a scientific journal.

If climate change can cause things such as the massive flood in Louisiana in August 2016, imagine what could happen in New England if the weather does not cool down soon. According to the Boston Climate Change report, if officials do not take significant action in the next 50 years, Boston could be hit by a major flood that could affect up to 90,000 Bostonians. The report states that “In the worst-case scenario, sea levels could rise more than 10 feet by the end of the century — nearly twice what was previously predicted — plunging about 30 percent of Boston under water.”  

Climate change is a very political issue, and Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston recently attended an international climate summit in Beijing. “The updated climate projections confirm that we must work together to take bold approaches to prepare Boston for the impacts of climate change,” Walsh said in a statement, according to The Boston Globe.

Images: Two predictions of how Boston will be affected by potential rising ocean levels. Image sources: U.S. Department of Transportation,