Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Nations Guaranteed to Be Swallowed by the Sea

 

Imagine the street you live on is knee-deep in floodwater, and it’s ruining everything in sight, including your home. Now imagine that those awful floodwaters never, ever recede. Instead, the water just keeps rising and rising until your entire country drowns.

For a number of island nations, that's ultimately the significance of the recent reports about the unstoppable melt of the massive ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland, along with hundreds of glaciers.

“We’ve already lost some island atolls. On others the rising sea is destroying homes, washing away coffins and skeletons from graves,” Tony de Brum, the foreign minister of the Marshall Islands, told me. “Now with every full moon the high tides brings salt water into our streets. We’re moving further inland but can’t move much further."

The Marshall Islands are located in the northern Pacific Ocean, and are home to some 70,000 people spread out over 24 low-lying coral atolls. Low-lying, as in six feet above sea level on average. Not only do rising seas flood and erode shorelines, they also make groundwater too salty too drink and “poison” the land with salt so crops and even coconuts trees can’t grow.

Earlier this month Motherboard reported that the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet was underway, guaranteeing a minimum of three metres (10 feet) of sea level rise. 

Another study said the melting ice is 31 per cent faster now than between 2005 and 2011. Way up in Greenland, the same thing is happening, according to a new study in the journal Nature Geoscience. And then there was the recent US National Climate Assessment that found Alaska’s and Canada’s glaciers are pumping huge volumes of water into the ocean.

For the rest of the story: http://motherboard.vice.com/read/the-nations-destined-to-be-swallowed-by-the-sea

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