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Impact of extreme sea-level rise: Greenpeace

Context:

A recent report by Greenpeace East Asia flagged that as many as 15 million people in seven Asian cities could be affected by extreme sea-level rise and coastal flooding by 2030.

Relevance:

GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Climate Change and its issues, Environmental Pollution and Degradation)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Trends in rising Sea Levels
  2. Impact of Rising Sea Levels
  3. Highlights of the Greenpeace report on Rising Sea Levels

Click Here to read about a study on rising sea level’s impact on Lakshadweep

Trends in rising Sea Levels

  • Global sea level has been rising over the past century, and the rate has accelerated in recent decades. The average global sea level has risen 8.9 inches between 1880 and 2015. That’s much faster than in the previous 2,700 years.
  • SLR is not uniform across the world. Regional SLR may be higher or lower than Global SLR due to subsidence, upstream flood control, erosion, regional ocean currents, variations in land height, and compressive weight of Ice Age glaciers.
  • Earlier, IPCC released ‘The Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate’ which underlined the dire changes taking place in oceans, glaciers, and ice-deposits on land and sea. The report expects oceans to rise between 10 and 30 inches by 2100 with temperatures warming 1.5 °C.

Impact of Rising Sea Levels

  • Coastal Flooding: Globally, eight of the world’s 10 largest cities are near a coast, which is threatened by coastal flooding. Jakarta (Indonesia) is being known as the world’s fastest-sinking city, by about 25 cm into the ground every year. Other cities that regularly feature in the lists endangered by climate change include Guangzhou, Jakarta, Miami, Mumbai and Manila.
  • Destruction of Coastal Biodiversity: SLR can cause destructive erosion, wetland flooding, aquifer and agricultural soil contamination with salt, and lost habitat for biodiversity.
  • Dangerous Storm Surges: Higher sea levels are coinciding with more dangerous hurricanes and typhoons leading to loss of life and property.
  • Lateral and Inland Migration: Flooding in low-lying coastal areas is forcing people to migrate to the higher ground causing displacement and dispossession and in turn a refugee crisis worldwide.
  • Effect on Communications Infrastructure: The prospect of higher coastal water levels threatens basic services such as internet access.
  • Threat to Inland Life: Rising seas can contaminate soil and groundwater with salt threatening life farther away from coasts.
  • Tourism and Military Preparedness: Tourism to coastal areas and military preparedness will also be negatively affected by an increase in SLR.

Highlights of the Greenpeace report on Rising Sea Levels

  • The report analysed 7 cities that are economic centres and are located on or close to the coast, which are: Bangkok, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Jakarta, Seoul, Taipei and Manila.
  • In Asia, coastal cities are at high risk from rising sea levels and intensifying storms. Approximate 600 million people, mostly live in low-lyingcoastal regions in Asia, are at risk of flooding due to sea level rise.
  • An estimated $724 billion in gross domestic product (GDP) could be impacted due to extreme sea-level rise and coastal flooding by 2030, according to the report.
  • The estimated GDP impact accounted ranged from 0.4 per cent to 96 per cent of each city’s entire GDP.
  • The report did not take into account the effect of levees or seawalls some cities have built or could be building until 2030, which could minimise the flood risk.
  • The report urged for faster and more ambitious climate action. It urged the governments to commit to achieving ‘net zero’ by 2050.

Major findings of seven Asian cities

  • More than 96 per cent of Bangkok’s land area could be flooded in 2030 and could put $512.28 billion of GDP at purchasing power parity and 10.45 million people at risk.
  • The analysis projected that in Hong Kong, extreme sea-level rise and any subsequent flooding in 2030 could put $2.24 billion of GDP at purchasing power parity and 90,000 people at risk.
  • Extreme sea-level rise and any subsequent flooding in 2030 in Tokyo could put $68.19 billion of GDP at purchasing power parity 0.83 million people at risk.
  • Almost 17 per cent of Jakarta’s total land area is below the level to which sea water could rise, leading to GDP risk of $68.20 billion and 1.80 million people at risk.
  • Approximately 3 per cent of Seoul’s land area is below the level to which sea water could rise by 2030. The report suggested the affected areas would mainly be residential and agricultural, leading to $4.69 billion of GDP at purchasing power parity risk and put 0.13 million people at risk.
  • In Taipei, extreme sea-level rise and any subsequent flooding in 2030 could put $29.64 billion of GDP at purchasing power parity and 0.43 million people at risk.
  • Almost 87 per cent of Manila’s land area is below the level to which sea water could rise in 2030. Up to 1.54 million people and a total of $39.24 billion of GDP at purchasing power parity could be affected.

-Source: Down to Earth Magazine

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September 2022
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