Lost Atlantis?

What are the likely effects of a 1.5m rise in sea level?  There is no consensus on how much sea levels will rise over over the next 100 years.  Some organisations predict that it will be as little as 59cm, whilst others suggest it will rise as much as 5m.  Our figure of 1.5m is based on a work carried out by the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory in March 2008. 

What would the consequences be?  Research carried out on the consequences of a 1 metre rise are dramatic:

  • Billions spent on adaptation – If you can afford it.  A recent study estimated the costs of the USA alone adapting  would amount to US$156 billion.  Most countries don’t have this kind of money to spend.
  • Islands disappearing – Some island nations, such as the Maldives, would be submerged.  Already, two of the islands that make up Kiribati (a Pacific island nation) have sunk under the waves.
  • Cities swamped – If current warming trends continue, cities like London, Accra and New York will end up below sea level – displacing millions and causing massive economic damage.  At some point, building higher and higher sea walls becomes impractical, and even the wealthiest nations will see cities flood.
  • Water shortages – Rising oceans will contaminate both surface and underground fresh water supplies – worsening the world’s existing fresh water shortage. Underground water sources in Thailand, Israel, China, Vietnam and some island states are already experiencing salt water contamination.
  • Landscapes flooded – Rural populations and farmland will be wiped out.  Over 2.2 million kms of farmland would be flooded.  In Bangladesh alone a 1m rise would flood 17 percent of its territory, displacing tens of millions of people and reducing its rice-farming land by 50 percent.

sea-level-map

Sea level change map

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