Melting ice caps and glaciers are one of the many effects of global climate change. Water from these sources flows into the surrounding oceans, causing a chain reaction of events. Perhaps the most pressing of these issues is the rapidly rising sea levels, which are threatening the safety and future of at least 52 countries around the world, with a total population of around 62 million. Rising sea levels are forcing people out of their homes, destroying local habitats, and causing some countries to disappear. This article takes a look at 10 of the most at-risk countries that could soon disappear due to global climate change.
Bangladesh is located in South Asia and shares borders with India and Myanmar. This is the only non-island nation on the list. It has a population of over 163.18 million, who are constantly threatened by the high average of floods, cyclones, and tornadoes that occur here. These natural disasters are only becoming more frequent due to global climate change. The glaciers of the Himalaya mountains are melting faster than average, resulting in increased instances of flooding. At least 25% of the country is covered in floods every year, which has prompted residents to adapt to these conditions. One of these adaptations has been to grow agricultural crops on large rafts that can float when water levels rise. Researchers believe around 20 million climate refugees will be forced from their homes in the coming years.
Comoros is located between Madagascar and Mozambique off the east coast of Africa. It is made up of 3 large islands and several smaller islands with a population size of 798,000. This country is considered vulnerable to climate change and has suffered damages from rising sea levels and increased flooding. These issues have decreased agricultural production, caused coral reef destruction, and affected the local fishing industry. The Global Climate Change Alliance is working with the government here to help the country fight these negative effects through future plans and policies.
Tonga, located in the southern Pacific Ocean, is made up of 169 islands. Only 36 islands are inhabited with a total population of just over 103,000. One of the biggest threats facing this country is the rapidly rising sea levels. Residents and local businesses have already been dealing with disappearing beaches, forced to move their homes, offices, and restaurants further inland to escape the invading water. Mangroves here have already been destroyed, leaving the coastline further exposed to storms and erosion.
Seychelles is located in the western Indian Ocean and is made up of 115 islands, which cover a total area of 177 square miles. Increasing ocean temperatures surrounding the islands have destroyed the coral reefs here. These reefs worked to protect the islands from erosion; without them, the islands are now threatened by erosion. If sea levels rise just 3 feet, the 92,000 people living here will be left with nowhere to go.
Palau is located to the southeast of the Philippines and is made up of over 300 islands. Its population of approximately 21,000 primarily lives on 1 of the 8 large islands. Rising sea levels have already taken a toll on the communities here, with increased erosion eating away at available land and saltwater reaching agricultural crops. The warmer temperatures of this water is also destroying surrounding coral reefs, which allows for more erosion and has a negative effect on the local fishing industry.
Nauru, located in the central Pacific Ocean, covers only 8.1 square miles and has a population size of just over 10,000. Because of the history of mining on this island, the majority of its land area has been left unsuitable for human habitation. Residents here have no other choice but to live along its coastlines, which are quickly disappearing due to global warming. The government has initiated a project to restore old mining areas in an attempt to increase land available to its inhabitants. Additionally, environmental sustainability has become a key component to its policies in an attempt to combat climate change.
Kiribati, an island nation, is located between the US state of Hawaii and Australia in the Pacific Ocean. Its 33 islands cover a total area of only 313 square miles and is already facing the effects of rising sea levels. Between 1992 and 2010, for example, the ocean rose a total of .07 inches annually. In some areas, the rise in water was much higher. Most of the residents of Kiribati have already moved to the largest island after losing their communities. The president of this country has purchased 6,000 acres of land from Fiji to relocate the island’s population.
3. Federated States of Micronesia
The Federated States of Micronesia, located east of the Philippines, consists of 607 islands and atolls. Rising sea levels here have already caused significant damage and even caused local cemeteries to disappear beneath the waves. In response to these threats, the government has enacted sustainable economic development policies and climate adaptation plans. The ocean surrounding these islands is expected to rise anywhere from 16 to 62 inches by the end of this century.
Tuvalu is made up of 3 reef islands and 6 atolls, located in the Pacific Ocean halfway between Hawaii and Australia. It covers a total area of just 10 square miles and has a population size of 10,640. The residents of this country are already seeking refuge elsewhere as a result of the damage occurring here due to global climate change. In fact, a family here became one of the first in the world to be granted residency in New Zealand based on the threat of global climate change. Not only are residents here losing viable land area and faced with constant erosion and flooding, but the soil salinity of the land that remains is becoming too high for agricultural efforts.
The Maldives is located to the west of India and consists of around 1,100 islands. As the lowest lying islands in the world, only 4.2 feet above sea level, this country is particularly susceptible to the effects of rising sea levels. Many of the islands here are reporting significant beach erosion, which is effectively reducing the land area suitable for human habitation.