11 November 2008

Rising seas: time to buy a new homeland?

The Maldive is already looking into buying a new homeland.

Most parts of the Maldives are just 1.5m above water. Even a "small rise" in sea levels would inundate large parts of the archipelago. The UN forecasts that the seas are likely to rise by up to 59cm by 2100, due to global warming.

Maldives newly elected president Mohamed "Anni" Nasheed, said "We can do nothing to stop climate change on our own and so we have to buy land elsewhere. It's an insurance policy for the worst possible outcome. After all, the Israelis [began by buying] land in Palestine,"

He said Sri Lanka and India were targets because they had similar cultures, cuisines and climates. Australia was also being considered because of the amount of unoccupied land available. "We do not want to leave the Maldives, but we also do not want to be climate refugees living in tents for decades."

In Five nations under threat from climate change on the Short Sharp Science blog, besides the Maldives, the other four countries include Tuvalu which could be gone by the middle of this century; Kiribati; Carteret Islands of Papua New Guinea -- where a trial relocation last year led to relocated citizens being used as labourers in coconut plantations on Bougainville; Bangladesh's Bhola Island -- in 1995, half a million of its inhabitants were forced to move in when half their island was permanently flooded.

What about Singapore?

In the latest parlimentary discussion on the issue:

Minister Yaacob Ibrahim answered both MPs by first stating that the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected last year that climate change could lead to sea level rises of between 18cm and 59cm by the year 2100.

This does not factor in the rapid melting of Greenland or Antarctic ice sheets, as the understanding of these effects is too limited.

Since 1991, all new reclamation projects have to be built to a level 125cm above the highest recorded tide level.

This is 66cm more than the IPCC's projected highest sea level rise of 59cm by the end of the 21stcentury in the worst-case scenario.

Here's some older posts on the issue.

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