Pandemic: Legacy of the Sea

About a month ago, three friends and I did a playthrough of the campaign of Pandemic: Legacy. I strongly recommend it, in particular to those who enjoy cooperative strategizing and have a high tolerance for yelling at your teammates due to your miscommunications. (With the complexity of the rules, this will almost certainly plague your playthrough.)

In this post, however, I am talking not about diseases. I am instead talking about the world’s oceans.

Scientific estimates for how much the Earth will warm on average in one century if humans don’t do anything about their current carbon dioxide behaviors revolve around 4°C. Pessimal evaluations consider 4°C enough for the melting of the Greenlandic ice sheet. If the earth warms 10°C (which may well be the case if after one century humankind decides it can go another century before doing anything), not only the Greenlandic, but also the West Antarctic and East Antarctic ice sheets could all melt. The combination of the conversion of this massive quantity of continental ice to ocean water and the thermal expansion of water would cause sea levels to rise by 70 meters. The Earth has a lot of land above 70 meters in elevation, but remember, most humans live on the coast and more generally in low areas. And thus, rather than ask how many of 48 cities will survive a tumultous outbreak of diseases, I will here ask:

How do the 48 cities of Pandemic: Legacy fare in the ultimate sea level rise?

Blue Region
San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, Montréal, Washington, New York, London, Madrid, Paris, Essen, Milan, St. Petersburg

San Francisco: Most of Sunset, Mission, and Downtown are below the critical elevation. The highlands in the heart of San Francisco is now the only of San Francisco, aside from the various hills of the rest of San Francisco, which form an archipelago. City Hall and Union Square are both way underwater. For all practicality, San Francisco has perished. (Going north from San Francisco along the Pacific coast, the story is not happier. Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver also do not make it.)

Chicago: Fortunately, substantially high enough. Lake Ontario is barely above the seventy meter mark, but Lake Michigan is more than an entire Niagara Falls above Lake Ontario. Chicago survives.

Atlanta: Far enough inland to be high enough. Atlanta survives. (More-coastal Georgia and other southern states, though, do not make it. Charleston is gone. Houston sinks. New Orleans’ levees that couldn’t take Katrina cannot anywhere near take 70m of sea level rise. Memphis survives with minimal damage.)

Montréal: Only seemingly inland on a map, Montréal is too near to the mouth of the St. Lawrence River. Although the center of the island Montréal is on makes it, most of the populated regions of the city do not, and sink underwater. (Toronto survives, though.)

Washington: At about 20 meters of elevation for each, the White House and the Capitol don’t make it even if only Greenland melts. The Supreme Court survives Greenland melting but not Antarctica melting. Neither Georgetown University nor George Washington University stay unsoaked. Only some outermost regions of the District of Columbia remain above sea level.

New York: Well, the top of the Empire State Building is high enough. But almost nowhere on the ground on Manhattan is. Only a small speck of the north end of Manhattan is above the line. The Bronx does barely better. Queens does worse. Brooklyn does even worse, 100% reclaimed by the sea. Staten Island fares by far the best of the five boroughs, but even the vast majority of it does not make it. (Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Haven, and Boston also perish. Of all the colleges of the Boston area, even the more-inland Brandeis, Bentley, Tufts, and Boston College do not stay on land. Northeastern, Harvard, MIT, and Boston University do not survive even a Greenlandic melt.)

London: Most of London does not make it. (Edinburgh is split about in half between parts that stay dry and parts that sink.)

Madrid: Protected by quite a lot of land. The rising seas aren’t a problem here. (More coastal Barcelona is not as lucky. Over in Portugal, Lisbon is claimed by the sea.)

Paris: Like Madrid, far enough inland to not need to fear the waters.

Essen: Essen is mostly okay. Western regions of the city may succumb to the rising Rhine. (Hamburg is much less fine, and is lost in near entirety. Berlin does not too well. West of Germany, destruction is near total. Almost all of Netherlands is far too low to survive, and much of Belgium, including Antwerp and a substantial amount of Brussels, doesn’t either. The Nordic countries also suffer heavy damage, all five of their capitals—Reykjavik, Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Helsinki—being lost to the sea.)

Milan: Milan is elevated enough to survive. (Rome isn’t. Venice isn’t even close to standing a chance. Elsewhere in Mediterranean peninsulas, about half of Athens is lost, but the Acropolis continues to stand proudly atop a safe hill.)

St. Petersburg: St. Petersburg is far too low to survive the rising seas. (Tallinn and Riga also succumb to the advancing waters of the Baltic.)

6/12 cities survive
San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, Montréal, Washington, New York, London, Madrid, Paris, Essen, Milan, St. Petersburg

Yellow Region
Los Angeles, Miami, Mexico City, Bogotá, Lima, Santiago, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Lagos, Kinshasa, Khartoum, Johannesburg

Los Angeles: Downtown makes it. Going west and south, though, nope. No more Santa Monica, Inglewood, Hawthorne, or Torrance. Compton goes straight into the sea. Long Beach would not survive even a Greenlandic melt. Beverly Hills becomes a coastal estate. Hollywood survives fairly well. Although with substantial losses, enough of Los Angeles remains intact to declare it not lost. (Disneyland in Anaheim, on the other hand, perishes. So do Santa Ana and Irvine. Most of San Diego also perishes.)

Miami: Utterly no chance. Barely above the ocean, it is possible that by not acting up to now we have already doomed Miami to the underwater realms in several decades. (Nearly the entirety of Florida lies below the critical line. Naples, Tampa, and Orlando are completely wiped out as well.)

Mexico City: Despite gradually sinking in elevation, Mexico City is plenty comfortably high up to not need to worry about rising waters. (Much of the Yucatán peninsula, on the other hand, is not so lucky. Many Caribbean islands also suffer extensive losses.)

Bogotá: It’s nice to be way up in the mountains, far from the reach of the ocean. (More coastal Caracas in Venezuela is also very elevated and also does well. Georgetown, Paramaribo, and Cayenne, over in the Guayanas though? Destroyed.)

Lima: More coastal portions of the city perish. The eastern areas do all right. (Guayaquil in Ecuador, however, is flooded in near entirety.)

Santiago: Far up on hills, Santiago survives. (Valparaiso, though, does not.)

Buenos Aires: The Rio de la Plata expands to become a bay, and takes all of Buenos Aires under.

Rio de Janeiro: Nearly all of the city perishes. (São Paulo does well, though. Recife, on the other hand doesn’t make it. The Amazon River swells to flood much of the flat lands around, including Manaus.)

Lagos: Lagos will not make it. (Dakar fares even worse, being lost in entirety.)

Kinshasa: Kinshasa stays dry, not that it may matter much as after global warming this already-hot city may be unlivable.

Khartoum: Fortunately, Khartoum is far enough up the Nile to not suffer from the rising seas.

Johannesburg: Being well inland means Johannesburg is very safe. (And so is Pretoria very near it. Cape Town and Durban, on the coast of South Africa, though, are not so lucky.)

8/12 cities survive
Los Angeles, Miami, Mexico City, Bogotá, Lima, Santiago, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Lagos, Kinshasa, Khartoum, Johannesburg

Black Region
Algiers, Cairo, Istanbul, Moscow, Riyadh, Baghdad, Tehran, Karachi, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata

Algiers: Some more inland parts of the city survive, but most of it does not. (Casablanca and Tunis are also lost in majority. As with Tripoli. And Benghazi. Several years later, the GOP investigates Hillary Clinton for water damage.)

Cairo: Almost nothing left. The Pyramids of Giza now peek up as a set of pyradimal islands.

Istanbul: The Sea of Marmara expands to drown a large portion of the city, including most central areas. Some outskirts survive. The Hagia Sophia would survive a Greenlandic melt but not an Antarctic melt. (In nearby Bulgaria, Varna also goes underwater, and Odessa in Ukraine is completely swallowed by the advancing Black Sea.)

Moscow: Moscow does very well. The Kremlin will not need relocation. (The Arctic Sea expands to reclaim a lot of land from Northern Russia, fortunately a region of understandably extremely low population.)

Riyadh: Located in the center of the Arabian Peninsula, Riyadh is unscathed. (Coastal areas of the Arabian Peninsula are not so lucky. Jeddah and Muscat are gone. Aden does surprisingly okay, but still loses a lot of ground and becomes an island. Dubai goes bye-bye, and with it the World Islands it reclaimed from the sea. Doha, Manama, and Kuwait City are also gone.)

Baghdad: Land between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, the cradle of civilization, succumbs to the extended grip of the Persian Gulf. Baghdad, historic center of trade, is lost in entirety. (Fallujah does not make it either. Tikrit survives.)

Tehran: Tehran, well inland and elevated, makes it very well. (Mountainous Iran generally does pretty well. Shiraz, Isfahan, and Tabriz also all survive in entirety. It loses Bandar Abbas, though.)

Karachi: Nearly the entirety of Karachi succumbs to the sea. The central areas would not survive even a Greenlandic melt.

Delhi: Delhi is actually located comfortably inland enough to make it without a scratch. (Agra and Jaipur make it as well, so the Golden Triangle remains intact. Kashmir is high enough for the sea to not enter as another party in territorial dispute.)

Mumbai: Most of Salsette island is washed out. With it goes Bollywood. (Pune survives.)

Chennai: Chennai is destroyed in its entirety. A Greenlandic melt would destroy it in near entirety. (Inland Bengaluru and Madurai survive. Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram do not. Not much of Visakhapatnam makes it. Over in Sri Lanka, Jaffna and Colombo both perish.)

Kolkata: The majestic Ganges delta expands to swallow Kolkata whole. (Patna is further inland, but is not spared from the hulkification of the Bay of Bengal either. Bhubaneshwar doesn’t stand a chance. The Brahmaputra River backs up to swallow Guwahati, but Shillong survives. Ninety percent of densely-populated Bangladesh lies under the Greenlandic line and is obliterated in completion: Dhaka is completely gone, and not much of the port city of Chittagong survives. Yangon is taken underwater.)

4/12 cities survive
Algiers, Cairo, Istanbul, Moscow, Riyadh, Baghdad, Tehran, Karachi, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata

Red Region
Sydney, Jakarta, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Manila, Taipei, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul, Osaka, Tokyo

Sydney: Most of Sydney does not make it. Scattered areas are high enough to survive, and these are not plenty. (How does the rest of Australia do? Every single state capital perishes: Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane, and Hobart. Darwin also sinks. Canberra survives. How does New Zealand do? Auckland and Wellington sink under the sea. How goes the rest of Oceania? The entire countries of Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands are no more, even in the case of a Greenlandic melt.)

Jakarta: Annihilated. Almost all of Jakarta will not survive even a Greenlandic melt. (Surabaya is also completely sunk, as is Ujungpandang. Kuala Lumpur does better, but still takes massive damage. Singapore sinks into the sea.)

Bangkok: Nothing left. No part of Bangkok is high enough to see the air. Bangkok will not survive a Greenlandic melt.

Ho Chi Minh City: Complete disaster; the entire city is gone, even in the case of just a Greenlandic melt. (Hanoi and Hai Phong sink as well. Over in Cambodia, Phnom Penh also succumbs to the ocean. Laos’ Vientiane survives.)

Manila: Almost all of the city sinks underwater. (More of Quezon City survives, but not much.)

Taipei: Taipei stands no chance against rising seas. Even if only Greenland melts, the Taipei 101 becomes slightly shorter if parts of the building don’t count if they’re not above water. (Taichung and Taoyuan do okay. Kaohsiung, Tainan, Chiayi, Hsinchu, and Keelung do not okay, in many cases very not okay.)

Hong Kong: Hong Kong is very doomed. There’s ample of high ground that remains dry, but most of the populated areas say farewell. (With Hong Kong goes Shenzhen. The entire Pearl River Delta becomes a bay of the South China Sea, even including more-inland Guangzhou, also now underwater. Zero of China’s Special Economic Zones survive. Not Zhuhai, not Shantou, not Xiamen. And Shanghai?)

Shanghai: If Hong Kong is very doomed, Shanghai is very, very doomed. Nearly the entirety of the city is far too low to survive an Antarctic melt, much of which would not survive a Greenlandic melt either. (A huge expanse of eastern China lies below 70 meters. Hangzhou, Suzhou, Nanjing, Hefei, Wuhan, Changsha, and Nanchang, all cities of more population than Los Angeles, join Shanghai underwater. Almost the entirety of the province of Jiangsu, home to more than twice California’s population, goes under.)

Beijing: Despite being rather inland, most of Beijing is not high enough. One must travel beyond the third ring of Beijing to find land above water. All the central areas of Beijing are wiped out. (Tianjin, Beijing’s port city, is naturally even lower in elevation, and does even worse.)

Seoul: A fair amount of the higher parts of Seoul stay above sea level, but much of it does not make it. Psy’s beloved Gangnam is completely underwater. (Busan doesn’t make it either. North Korea doesn’t get to laugh, as Pyongyang is also consumed by the sea.)

Osaka: Osaka is lost in near entirety. (The ocean advances inland past Osaka to also claim the old capital of Kyoto. Nagoya also does not make it.)

Tokyo: Only some outer regions survive as the central portions of Tokyo are brought underwater. (Also underwater now is the Fukushima Nuclear Plant.)

0/12 cities survive
Sydney, Jakarta, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Manila, Taipei, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul, Osaka, Tokyo

In total, 18/48 cities survive. Billions of people are displaced, and landmarks all over the world will now need to be visited via scuba diving.


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