London – Jakarta – Shanghai and Houston and other global cities that are already sinking will become increasingly vulnerable to storms and flooding as a result of global warming – campaigners have warned ahead of a landmark new report on climate science.
Some big cities are already subsiding – the ground beneath Shanghai for instance is being pressed down by the sheer weight of the buildings above – and rising sea levels resulting from global warming will make the effects worse.
The cities named in the report are sinking for a variety of reasons.
Jakarta is thought to be subsiding by 25cm a year largely because of groundwater extraction and Houston is sinking as the oil wells beneath it are depleted.
Bangkok’s skyscrapers are weighing it down – while London is slowly sinking for geological reasons: Scotland is slowly rebounding after having been weighed down by glaciers during the last ice age – which is pushing southern England downwards like a see-saw.
The warning comes as the world’s leading climate scientists meet this week in South Korea to finalise a comprehensive study setting out whether and how the world can avoid temperature rises of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.