For a very long time, the world has been witnessing rising sea levels, thanks to climate change causing the Arctic ice to melt. However, if new research is to be believed, this isn’t a cause for concern anymore. It is a catastrophe waiting to happen and may strike much earlier that the world expects it to.
A research report from Climate Control, published in the New York Times suggests that rising level of seas is likely to affect three times more people by 2050 than previously thought and erase some of the world’s great coastal cities. It says that over 150 million people, living on land currently, would find themselves below the high-tide line by mid-century.
Climate Central, a science organization based in New Jersey, indicates that the bottom part of the South Vietnam will be underwater at high tide. This means that more than 20 million people in Vietnam, almost one-quarter of the population, currently living on land will be inundated. It also revealed that Ho Chi Minh City, the nation’s economic centre, would disappear with it. In Thailand, more than 10 percent of citizens now live on land that is likely to be submerged by 2050.
In Shanghai, one of Asia’s most important economic engines, water threatens to consume the heart of the city and many other cities around it.
Going Beyond Environmental Concern
Benjamin Strauss, Climate Central’s chief executive, warns countries saying it is high time that countries must start investing vastly greater sums in the climatic defences.
Dina Ionesco of the International Organization for Migration, an intergovernmental group, says countries should start preparing now for more citizens to relocate internally.
The new projections suggest that much of Mumbai, India’s financial capital and one of the largest cities in the world, is at risk of being wiped out. It was once a series of islands and now, it is in a highly vulnerable state.
What the study also highlighted is the need to look at this climate crisis beyond environmental concern. For example, the disappearance of cultural heritage could bring its own kind of devastation. Alexandria, Egypt, founded by Alexander the Great around 330 B.C., could be lost to rising waters.
In other situations, migration owing to rising seas could lead to regional conflicts. It could lead to social and political instability in the regions with reignited armed conflict and increase the likelihood of terrorism. “It’s a humanitarian, security and possibly military problem too,” says General Castellaw, who is now on the advisory board of the Center for Climate and Security, a research and advocacy group in Washington.