Wildfires, floods and landslides have made it to the news this year due to devastating disasters that many believe resulted from the climate crisis. As countries across the world fail to reach consensus over reducing carbon emissions, the effects of greenhouse gas and global warming will only go on to worsen the situation. Then there is the massive melting of ice near the poles. According to data released by Danish government, Greenland is on track to lose its vast ice sheets. The region lost 8.5 billion tons of surface mass on Tuesday and another 8.4 billion tons on Thursday.
The amount of ice lost by Greenland will add up to the flowing water into the ocean and further propel the ongoing increase in global sea level caused by human-induced climate change. As the ocean water warms and expands in volume, coastal areas come under threat of losing land and drowning eventually.
The amount of ice lost by Greenland last week is enough to drown the US state of Florida or India’s Andhra Pradesh, in two inches of water. Coastal cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Jakarta, Tokyo and island countries like Maldives will be some of the places that will bear the brunt of rising ocean levels. A 2019 research has already suggested that Mumbai runs the risk of drowning by 2050.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global warming and its subsequent effects have played a major role in raising average global sea level between four and eight inches in the past 100 years.
Earlier this year, professor Petteri Taalas, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organisation, said that nearly 40 per cent of the global population live within 100 kilometres of the coast, and there is an urgent need to protect communities from coastal hazards such as waves, storm surge and sea level rise.
The expected economic and humanitarian impacts on low-lying, densely populated and developing countries like Bangladesh and India are potentially catastrophic. Even for wealthy countries like the Netherlands, with nearly half its landmass already at or below sea level, rising sea level poses a threat.
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