WHAT ON EARTH? Rising Waters

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WHAT ON EARTH? Rising Waters

By Dita Smith

Saturday , December 9, 2000 ; Page A22

Earth's surface temperature has risen during the past century, causing polar ice caps and glaciers to thin and retreat. Climate experts believe that even small temperature increases over time can cause ocean levels to rise -- some predict by about three feet by 2080 -- forcing millions of people to flee coastal regions or islands for higher ground. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts 1 billion people could be displaced, many of them in poor, densely populated countries of Asia and Africa.

Were ocean levels to rise by about three feet, these Asian coastal areas and river valleys would be among the most severely affected regions:


Estimated flooded area: 1.5 million acres

People displaced: 7 million


Estimated flooded area: 7.4 million acres

People displaced: 15 million to 20 million


Main river valleys flooded, displacing millions. Most of Shanghai flooded

Displaced: 6 million


Estimated flooded area: 6.2 million acres

People displaced: 10 million


Estimated flooded area: millions of acres

People displaced: 20 million


300 atolls would disappear

People displaced: 5 million


Estimated flooded area: 1.7 million acres

People displaced: 1 million


Estimated flooded area: Entire island chain

People displaced: 300,000

Arctic sea ice has thinned by 40 percent in less than 30 years.

Sri Lanka, Burma, Cambodia, Thailand, Japan, Korea: Millions more would have to flee.

Millions of people along the west coast of Africa, the Andean coast in Latin America and the Gulf Coast and parts of the Atlantic Coast of the United States would also have to resettle inland.

SOURCE: World Watch Institute, "Coastal Waters of the World: Trends, Threats and Strategies," by Don Hinrichsen

2000 The Washington Post


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), December 09, 2000

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