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Major Cities In The U.S. Could Be Flooded In The Next 15 Years, Wiping Out The Internet

Heidi Cullen

Many of us tend to forget that everything on this planet is connected in some way.

Something that's happening halfway across the world can affect your life today, or in a few days or months, sometimes without you even being consciously aware of it.

This is called the Butterfly Effect, which is a scientific theory that believes even a small occurrence can change the course of history.

For example, a butterfly flapping its wings today can influence the formation of a tornado weeks later.

This theory can be hard to wrap your head around, but the evidence of it is all around us.

Climate change is threatening every aspect of our lives, and if we don't act now, the consequences could be irreversible.

Rising Sea Levels Could Wipe Out Communication Systems

Scientists at the University of Oregan and the University of Wisconsin-Madison presented a study pointing out that sea levels are rising at a rapid rate, which can lead to widespread flooding, particularly affecting coastal regions.

If these regions become completely submerged underwater, this could have devastating effects on internet cables.

Major cities like New York, Miami, and Seattle have thousand of miles of internet cables lying beneath their city.

If these were ever to be destroyed, it could potentially knock out the internet.

The researchers estimate that at the rate of climate change today, we could experience these devastating consequences within the next 15 years.

“Most of the damage that’s going to be done in the next 100 years will be done sooner [rather] than later,” Paul Barford, University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of computer science and a co-author of the paper said.

“That surprised us. The expectation was that we’d have 50 years to plan for it. We don’t have 50 years.”

With the help of  the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Internet Atlas, they predict that more than 4,000 miles of buried fiber optic cables in the U.S. will be submerged in water by 2033, and more than 1,000 data centers, which store servers and routers, could also be damage, according to Global News.

Unfortunately, when these systems were put in place in the 90s, climate change was not considered.

“All of this equipment is meant to be weather-resistant — but it’s not waterproof,” Barford said.

“The landing points are all going to be underwater in a short period of time."

What This Means

While mainly cities like New York, Miami, and Seattle will be affected, internet outages are likely to spread all over the country.

John Clague, professor of Earth Sciences at Simon Fraser University in Canada, told Global News that "steps should be taken soon to develop plans to address this threat.”

That being said, Barford explains that it might be too late.

“The first instinct will be to harden the infrastructure, but keeping the sea at bay is hard. We can probably buy a little time, but in the long run it’s just not going to be effective.”

Even though we've had the internet for only a few decades, I can't imagine life without it! What are your opinions on this study?

[H/T: Global News / RT]

Moojan has been a writer at Shared for a year. When she's not on the lookout for viral content, she's looking at cute animal photos. Reach her at moojan@shared.com.