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An Underwater World

How the rising of sea levels could result in the loss of countries

A individual, who is at a protest, is holding up a homemade sign labelled 'there is no planet B'
There is no planet B

What are your first thoughts when the word climate change is presented to you? Does global warming, melting polar ice caps, natural disasters, and dramatic changes in weather sound familiar to you? Probably, as this is precisely what climate change is. However, has the thought of being unable to revisit your favourite holiday destination ever crossed your mind? Probably not! Our world is changing so that not being able to explore the wonders of the Maldives, for example, will become a reality by the year 2100; scientists say. Although some of us may not experience this, younger generations indefinitely will—poor them.


What is climate change?


First, let’s explore a definition of climate change. The United Nations describes the concept as a long-term shift in temperatures and weather patterns and unapologetically emphasises human activities being the primary driver of climate change. This is because humans like to burn fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas to drive their cars or heat up buildings, which, consequently, have been found to produce greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. Greenhouse gas emissions then act like a blanket wrapped around the earth, trapping the sun’s heat and raising temperatures. Imagine if you were forced to wrap up in a warm blanket while sunbathing in direct sunlight on the beach; you would not like this. Why would it be any different for the earth? The earth does not like greenhouse gases and has begun to react aggressively. Aggressive reactions include intense droughts, water scarcity, severe fires, rising sea levels, flooding, storms, and declining biodiversity. The list goes on. One of the main consequences, rising sea levels, will be the focus of this article.


The earth is 1.1 degrees warmer than it was in the late 1800’s due to the burning of fossil fuels.


The process of rising sea levels


When the world’s atmosphere is warmer, it directly affects polar icecaps. This is because the emission of extra heat naturally allows the icecaps to melt. This melting process equals a rise in sea levels due to the added water from the melting ice sheets and glaciers and the expansion of seawater as it warms. What happens when you take an ice cube out of the freezer? Eventually, it will melt and create a pool of water. This is the same process that the rise of sea levels follows. According to statistics, it has been found that the world’s seas have absorbed more than 90% of the heat from greenhouse gases. This massive absorption has resulted in the global average sea level rising by 23 centimetres since 1880, and by 2050 it has been predicted that sea levels along U.S coastlines could increase as much as 30 centimetres. This figure is enormous, and the consequences have already begun to show, such as certain countries and cities sinking.


What are sinking countries?


Consequences of rising sea levels include countries and cities being at risk of disappearing. Small Island Developing States (SIDS) that make up islands of the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans are currently at the most survival risk. These countries include:

  • The Maldives: Also experience unsafe weather conditions here. For example, consecutive days of rain that, in the past, have resulted in deaths.

  • Kiribati: Most likely country to disappear in the forthcoming years.

  • Vanuatu

  • Solomon Islands: Could be underwater in the next few decades.

  • Samoa: Their most significant challenge is the disappearance of coral reefs. These natural barriers are the walls of protection against violent waves; without this, waves erode and invade the coasts.

  • Nauru

These islands are in a specific geographical area that is more exposed to the dangers of global warming and, by nature, will be the first to suffer the consequences of climate change. The UN predicts all these states will be unhabitual by 2100. For many, this is devastating as this is their home, and generations of families born in these countries will be wiped out.


Other countries/cities that are at risk of sinking include:

  • The city of Venice in Italy

  • Bangkok in Thailand

  • Jakarta, Indonesia

  • Dhaka, Bangladesh

  • Germany

  • Belgium

  • The Netherlands

What can you do to save our sinking countries?


Our world is changing, and something needs to be done about it. So, what can you do to tackle climate change and reduce rising sea levels? There are many things an individual can do to help the environment, such as: walking to work or using your bike more, growing your own food, and educating others on climate change, as there are a lot of individuals who deny it is even a thing and plant more trees! All these small steps will contribute to a reduction in our carbon footprint. Just do it!


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