Wednesday, 4 November 2009
As sea levels rise, the picture of a new kind of refugee emerges. Climate refugees are people displaced by global warming and related environmental disasters. Hundreds of thousands of these refugees have already been displaced from permanently flooded coastal areas in places like Bohla Island in Bangladesh and the Carteret Islands in Papua New Guinea. The 10,000 Tuvaluans living on the low island atoll of Tuvalu pictured here may be next. But rising sea levels do not only affect these exotic far away places. Nearly a quarter of the world’s population lives in low coastal areas. Some of the world’s great cities like London, Miami, New York, New Orleans, Mumbai, Cairo, Amsterdam, Tokyo and Shanghai are vulnerable to rising sea levels. According to Elaine Kurtenbach of the Associated Press, Chinese cities are among the largest and most threatened. In Shanghai, developers seem to ignore this threat, and they are building new infrastructure on the densely populated coasts. By 2070, experts estimate that nearly 150 million people will be living in areas vulnerable to flooding from rising sea levels.