I recently encountered a video by Youtuber Atlas Pro about climate change and the places on earth that are likely to flood as a result of rising sea levels.
This is not a fear mongering post about how the world will be destroyed.
This is real. This is imminent.
It’s already happening and they’re using past and present data to predict how bad it will be within our lifetimes.
It won’t happen all at once. But rather the number of storms will increase, and every time the storm hits, it will shake up loose ground, which will wash away with the tides. Once the storm settles, there will be less ground than before.
For some areas mentioned, the damage can be mitigated with some political will and clever engineering. But for many of these areas, it’s too late.
Alternatively you can look at this video as a list of place to visit before they’re gone. Or a list of places you shouldn’t buy real estates in.
But not everybody has the luxury of treating this with such cold composure. These floods could lead to the some of world’s largest humanitarian crises in history, displacing billions of people.
Here are a few things to note from the video:
How they did it:
Youtuber Atlas Pro used elevation maps, combined with graphs of rising sea levels to predict where flooding will occur. The closer the land is to sea level, the more likely it is to flood.
The good news is that the amount of land that will go under is relatively small.
The bad news is that those lands have been historically some of the most populous regions in the world
Why is that?
Areas with a lot of rivers tend to be flat, due to the erosive nature of these rivers. As the river gets closer to shore, the land becomes closer to sea level.
Unfortunately, throughout human history mankind has settled along these particular areas. This is because
- The soil near river beds tend to be the most fertile
- Easy access to fresh water, for drinking, agriculture and livestock
- Great for fishing and trade.
We settled in these areas from as early as the Indus Valley, the Egyptian and the Mesopotamian civilisations in 3000 BC and haven’t turned back since. Over the last 5000 years, these place have been brought to sea level.
It seems ironic that US, the world polluter in history will be impacted severely.
Most of Florida is at sea level, and as storms increase, most of it will be underwater. Similarly, many areas on the east coast will lose significant land. Some of the most fertile farmland around Mississippi river will be devastated.
Like Florida, Bahamas may go fully underwater and is already at risk due to increased storms in the recent years.
While the west coast is mostly protected by mountain ranges, California has basins where water may seem in and flood inland.
But this issue is preventable if the government builds dams around crucial points. If they can connect it to power and a desalination plant they can also solve California’s water crisis.
Most of South America is safe as surrounded by mountains, which seems like good news. But the few chinks in this mountainous armour are deadly.
The Amazon is one of the worlds largest river basins, as well as the worlds largest rainforest. According to Atlas Pro, rising sea levels could create a new sea and the heart of the continent.
The Paràna and Uruguay rivers create a similar plain that’s susceptible to floods, but fortunately this is a much smaller area than that of the Amazon. However, flooding here would result in the loss of Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina.
Like South America, this continent is largely protected from rising sea levels.
However, the area around the Senegal and Gambia rivers are some of the few lowlands on the coasts of Africa, which is one of the most densely populated regions in the continent.
Like I mentioned earlier, the Nile delta is one of the most high risk areas in world. This is also some of Egypt’s most important land, as 95 million, or 41% of Egypt’s population lives here, not to mention this is their most arable land.
On the other side of the sea, Italy’s Po valley lies at sea level, threatening to sink Venice for good.
Similarly, Istanbul, Romania and Ukraine are also at risk of flooding and losing a significant portion of their land.
However, according to Atlas, a collaborative effort by these five nations to build dams around the mediterranean could solve many of the issues before the get out of hand.
The area between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers are known as the “cradle of civilisation”, however they’re incredibly low lying areas and may go underwater by 2100.
In a poetic way, this region is home to several oil fields, which will be destroyed by the floods.
The Ganga, Brahmaputra and the Meghna rivers form the world largest river delta, creating an incredibly fertile and low lying plain.
This region is very densely populated and even a slight rise in sea level could lead to the entirety of Bangladesh going underwater.
This will exacerbate the migrant crisis in the region as the people in Bangladesh are pushed in India and Myanmar. Given Myanmar’s recent history, this could create the world’s biggest migrant and humanitarian crisis so far.
China may be one of the hardest hit countries in the near future. The three major rivers, the Yellow, the Yangtze and the Pearl create a massive and fertile low lying plain in the east of the country.
Rising sea levels could push the coast line near the Yellow river as far back as Beijing.
The three rivers, combined with numerous smaller ones could lead to the loss of several hundred thousand homes.
Many island will lose a significant portion of their land, but Java will be hit worst in the region as more people live here than all of Russia.
While Australia won’t lose a significant portion of their land, they may face an alarming migrant crisis as the people from the nearby islands seek refuge.
Authors Note: I’m trying something different. Curating content instead of creating it from scratch. I’m keen on environment focused journalism, and I want my portfolio and blog to reflect that even when I’m not working on a climate piece at the moment. If you’re interested in content like this, let me in the comments.