Climate Change To Displace Millions In US; South Asia Remains At Greatest Risk
A study indicates that all 22 US coastal states will be hit by rising seas and California, New York, New Jersey will be the worst affected
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One of the most immediate and mounting threat facing our civilization due to climate change is rising of sea levels. Glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets across the globe including those in Greenland and Antarctica are melting at a much faster pace today. While sea levels rose a bare eight inches between 1800 and 2009, the rise has been quite accelerated in the recent years. Quantitatively speaking, the rise between 1993 and 2008 has soared by 65-90% from the average of the last century. The warming global oceans are also expanding due to the heat, further pushing the oceans higher.
A recent study has indicated that almost 13 million people in the United States are at the risk of displacement by 2100 due to rising sea levels. The study uses National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data to model the rise in sea levels. The magnitude of dislocation is based on a six feet increase in sea levels while a three feet rise will bring down the migration to 4.2 million people.
The study indicates that all 22 US coastal states will be hit by rising seas and California, New York & New Jersey will be the worst affected with almost a million people in need of migration in each of these states. The total cost of resettling the dislodged people will be a staggering $14 trillion.
South Asia is however at maximum risk. The consequences of climate change triggered sea level rise will be more intense in this region that includes Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Maldives. The population density and low(er) incomes of these countries will be the prime reasons that the region is at greater risk. Bangladesh is a low lying, riverine country and a three feet rise in sea levels will immerse a quarter of the country's land area. Some estimates also suggest that the country will lose a quarter of its land mass by 2100 that will displace around 13 million people.
Large metropolises like Mumbai, Kolkata and Dhaka that are home to almost 45 million are also at extreme peril of inundation due to rising oceans. Moreover, almost 11 million people living in 23 coastal cities across China, Korea and Japan are also under threat of being deprived of their habitats.
Major climate mitigation and adaptation efforts across the globe only can contain or limit such prophesied devastation. The countries in South Asia whose climate destiny is intertwined due the shared geography need to work around the inimical politico-economic mood and co-operate to embrace large scale climate mitigation and adaptation systems. An uphill task awaits us and our future generations to circumscribe the climate spill over of over two centuries of reckless industrial activity and urbanisation.