Sea Wall: A Trillion Dollars Doesn’t Sound So Bad

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President Donald Trump’s border wall is expected to cost upwards of US$15 billion1.  Built across 2,000 miles, that figure equals out to roughly US$7.5 million per mile.  After seeing the numbers for my seawall idea, these figures will seem paltry.

A little background

Scientists predict that sea levels will rise above eight feet by 21002 in an extreme scenario.  So, let’s look at this asshole scenario square in the eye and figure out a solution. Everyone remarks about the Netherlands’ dike system.  However, the record dike holder is the Saemangeum Seawall in South Korea, at twenty-one miles.

Some fun facts before we get started:

DeltaWorks cost over US$5 billion in 1955.  That’s US$15,830,216,815.28 as of Valentine’s Day, 2017.

Saemangeum Seawall was built in 1991 at a cost of roughly US$2,124,000,000; US$3,787,004,669.60 in 2017.

The Saemangeum SeaWall is 950 feet at its widest and has a mean height of 118 feet (so bring on eight feet), while the DeltaWorks helps protect a country of over sixteen million people.

Our challenge in the United States

When adding the length of statute miles that make up our magnificent coastline, you get a figure of 4,993 miles.  2,069 miles from the Atlantic states, 1,631 miles from our southern Gulf family, and the lower-48 Pacific states adds another 1,293 miles.  We want some wiggle room for ships to have shipping lanes.  So, arbitrarily I picked 10 miles.  At 10 miles, approximately 63 additional miles of American Seawall have to be accounted for.  This leaves the United States on the bill for 5,056 miles or so.  If we commissioned sixty-four of our best concrete companies, then each would only have to complete a seventy-nine-mile section.

Now the costs.  If twenty-one miles of Saemangeum Seawall was constructed for what equals US$3,787,004,669.60 ($3.7 Billion), then 5,056 miles of America Seawall will cost US$911,766,457,595 (Just shy of $1 Trillion).  In fact, it will cost US$180,333,555.70 ($180 Million) per mile.  A trillion dollars seems like an awfully expensive piece of anything.  However, 12.8 million people could be directly affected. There’s also the costs of damage.  One trillion dollars could be indebted to US homeowners due to sea level rise.  In 2013, OECD (Organisation for Economic and Co-operation Development) stated the (past) value of US property in harm’s way at over US$3 trillion.  By 2070, the number could balloon to US$35 trillion.

One trillion dollars today, or thirty-five trillion dollars plus American lives tomorrow?


Drew K. This is what Trump’s border wall could cost. Published 1, 2017. Accessed Autumn 2, 2017.
US scientists raise bar for sea level by 2100. Published January 24, 2017. Accessed February 16, 2017.




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