Rising seas peril many cities around the world

Published November 5, 2019, 4:18 PM

by Manila Bulletin

Rising seas threaten to erase many cities of the world by the year 2050, according  to  a study by Climate Central, a science organization  based in New Jersey in the United States, which was   published this week in the journal Nature Communications.

The study said a more accurate way of calculating land elevation based on satellite readings and new research shows that 150 million people are now living on land that will be below the high-tide line by 2050 – only 30 years from now.

In the Middle East, the cities of Alexandria, Egypt, and Basra, Iraq, were cited as among the ancient sites threatened by rising seas.  In the US city of St. Petersburg in Florida, ocean waters are expected to rise 15 inches by 2050.

But the greatest threats  are in Asia – in China, Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand.  Indonesia is already moving its capital from Jakarta to Kalimantan, Borneo.

Much  of  Ho Chih  Minh City – the old Saigon – in southern Vietnam  would  disappear,  according to the research. In Thailand, more than 10 percent of the people now live on land likely  to go underwater by 2050 – including Bangkok.

In China, water threatens the heart  of  Shanghai  and other cities  around  it.  Much of Mumbai  in  India, originally built on a series of islands, is at risk of being wiped out.

“The  world’s  coasts are more vulnerable to climate change than we ever thought,” said Peter Girard, director of  communications   for Climate Central.

The rise in the world’s ocean levels is blamed on the increase in  carbon  emissions  around the world which has caused world temperatures to rise and the polar  glaciers to melt.

China, the world’s most populous country and largest emitter of carbon – 27 percent,  according  to Global Carbon Project, a global research project of Future Earth —   has initiated massive national  action to  cut down its coal consumption.  The US is the  second  biggest source of industrial carbon – 15 percent — but its emissions  have reportedly  been declining  generally in the past  decade as coal use has fallen in favor of natural  gas. Carbon emissions from the 28 European  Union  nations  account for 9 percent; India, 7 percent;  and Russia, 5 percent.

The rest of the world, including  the Philippines, have minuscule contributions  to the world’s carbon emissions, but will suffer in equal measure from the resulting rise in ocean waters and stronger typhoons and hurricanes that have already begun around  our planet.