Developed Nations Can’t Afford to Ignore Surging Sea Levels

By HSealy
June 15, 2017

Over 4 million people in Caribbean and Pacific island nations reside in areas now prone to heavy flooding, partly due to rising sea levels caused by climate change.[1] 

It’d be a mistake for developed nations to ignore these people’s plight. Left unchecked, rising sea levels could devastate coastal communities in wealthy countries, too. These richer nations need to take steps now to combat climate change to protect smaller countries — and themselves.

Here’s the science behind the rising tides.

Greenhouse gas emissions have surged in recent years. Between 1990 and 2010, carbon dioxide and methane emissions spiked 42 percent and 15 percent, respectively.[2]

These gases trap heat, increasing global temperatures. As a result, polar ice caps, ice sheets, and glaciers are all melting at unprecedented rates, bumping up sea levels. Higher temperatures also warm the oceans. Since warmer water takes up more volume, this too increases sea levels.[3] 

Small island nations are already suffering from higher seas. In the Dominican Republic, hundreds of families in the community of La Barquita have been forced to relocate from flood-prone areas.[4] Meanwhile, in the Solomon Islands, water has completely submerged at least five reef islands.[5] And in the Marshall Islands, frequent flooding has diminished food production and contaminated drinking supplies.[6]

Developed nations have yet to experience such drastic consequences, so they haven’t done much to help. But the latest research reveals that such negligence will ultimately cost them.

Consider one of the world’s leading polluters, the United States, where President Trump just decided to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement that limits greenhouse gas emissions. Sea levels on the west coast could rise 10 feet by 2100. That would wipe out airports in Oakland and San Francisco, flood farmlands and beaches, and put 42,000 homes underwater.[7]

It’s not much better in the United Kingdom, where 7,000 coastal properties could be lost by the end of the century.[8] In Canada, rising seas could destroy homes and roads in island territories such as Nova Scotia.[9]

We can’t afford to wait until the problems of rising sea levels fully manifest themselves to start dealing with them. The entire developed world needs to combat climate change — before it devastates major cities the same way it has flooded small island nations.











Share and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
This entry was posted in Public Health and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.