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Do you actually get a sinking feeling that something is terribly wrong? It very well may be on the grounds that something is. A new study is uncovering that land is literally sinking in all around the globe directly under our feet.

The study estimates that about — 4.6 million square miles (12 million square km) will have sunk in by 2040.

The research is published in Science.

“Subsidence, the lowering of Earth’s land surface, is a potentially destructive hazard that can be caused by a wide range of natural or anthropogenic triggers but mainly results from solid or fluid mobilization underground,” states the study.

The work goes on to explore the reasons behind this subsidence finding that a large part of it is caused by human activity for example the extraction of natural gas, oil, & groundwater.

“During the next decades, global population and economic growth will continue to increase groundwater demand and accompanying groundwater depletion and when exacerbated by droughts, will probably increase land subsidence occurrence and related damages or impacts,” write the study’s authors.

The scientists found that at least two hundred locations across 34 countries witnessed subsidence due to groundwater depletion in the past century. They also found that a significant amount of our cities are located in areas threatened by subsidence.

“Our results identify 1,596 major cities or about 22 percent of the world’s 7,343 major cities that are in potential subsidence areas,” added the authors in their work. Making matters worse is the fact that the areas most likely to sink in the future are located in and around highly populated urban centers. This means that their impact will be felt by even more people in even more ways.

The authors urge country leaders to formulate “effective land-subsidence policies that are lacking in most countries worldwide.” This is especially important if you consider that as subsidence grows, sea levels also rise. If action is not taken soon and swiftly we may all find ourselves sinking beyond repair.