Words John Gray
Shishmaref, a remote Inupiate Eskimo village with a population of 650 people, has been identified as one of Alaska’s most eroded communities. Home to generations of seal hunters and fishermen, the island has lost 3,000 feet of coastline in the past 35 years. The severe coastal erosion has been attributed to global warming that has thawed sea ice that once shielded the island from storm surges. The village’s permafrost – the layer of permanently frozen soil on which it is built – is also melting.
A recent vote favored relocating the village. However the cost of transferring the entire population to a nearby safer area is estimated to be $180 million. The residents of Shishmaref have actually been considering relocation since the mid-1970s, when the village first introduced shoreline defense structures. The community even voted to leave in 2002, but was unable to because of the high cost. This time however, it seems that the move is inevitable.
This vote to move the entire village of Shishmaref follows another recent climate change relocation decision in the US. Earlier in 2016, $48 million of federal tax money was allocated for a community in Louisiana that is located on the Isle de Jean Charles, which is disappearing into the Gulf of Mexico. This relocation will involve just 60 people, but this significant move means that these are the first official climate refugees in the U.S.
Around the world governments are facing the reality that as human-induced climate change warms the planet, rising sea levels, stronger storms, harsher droughts and dwindling freshwater supplies could drive the world’s most vulnerable populations from their homes. According to the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security and the International Organization for Migration, by 2050 anywhere from 50 to 200 million people are expected to be displaced by climate change.
Tropical paradise destinations to visit before they vanish
Like coastal cities, tropical islands are also at risk of sinking. With rising sea levels, erosion, and pollution as a result of climate change, many idyllic islands are fast approaching their expiration date. Some of the world’s most stunning islands of paradise are threatened. So if the following places are on your bucket list, hurry and start planning.
Made up of 1,190 islands in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives attracts nearly one million pleasure-seekers annually. Offering miles of endless pristine white sands, dreamy turquoise waters, thatched roofs, and the best in luxury resorts, it’s no wonder that the Maldives is a haven for holidaymakers looking for a taste of paradise. It’s the lowest lying country in the world at an average of only 1.5 meters above sea level. If sea levels continue to rise, it could easily be under water in our lifetime.
A sprawling chain of volcanic islands and coral atolls in the central Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and the Philippines, the Marshall Islands are already being negatively impacted by sea level rise. Situated less than a meter above sea level, the islands are pommeled by regular high tides, destroying houses along the way. Islanders have even observed cemeteries being ravaged by severe flooding, with coffins being washed away from graves.
This destination, off the coast of Africa, is a heaven for holidaymakers. A total of 115 islands, the Seychelles are dotted with beautiful beaches, magnificent cliffs, lush jungles, crystal clear water, and five-star resorts. Unfortunately climate change — and its resulting rising water levels — has severely damaged the coral reefs, which shelter the islands from wave erosion. Some even predict that the entire country could be engulfed in as soon as 50 years.
THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
This volcanic archipelago off the coast of Ecuador is brimming with stunning wildlife, such as sea lions, rare penguins, marine iguanas, and giant tortoises. Sadly these creatures are threatened by several factors, including pollution, climate change, and introduced species such as cats and dogs that are eating their young. Like Charles Darwin, take the time to explore these charming exotic islands and see these remarkable creatures – some existing only in the Galapagos – before it’s too late.
THE SOLOMON ISLANDS
Earlier this year scientists discovered that five uninhabited Solomon Islands had disappeared. There are also six more that are inhabited in the same archipelago that will eventually vanish as a result of rising sea levels and coastal erosion resulting from climate change.
Global warming has already triggered
a sea level rise that could reach from
6 meters to 25 meters.”
Made up of more than 900 islands and atolls, the country lies to the east of Papua New Guinea and attracts plenty of tourists who are drawn to its breathtaking beaches and water sports from diving, snorkeling to surfing. Act fast and plan your visit as the smaller islands are going under fast.
THE MAGDALEN ISLANDS
Part of the Canadian province of Quebec, this archipelago in the Gulf of St. Lawrence harbors intense winds. The winds are so frequent and severe that the island’s coast, marked by red sandstone cliffs, erodes significantly each year. While there happens to be a protective wall of sea ice, scientists believe that it’s only approximately 75 years away from melting, leaving the islands susceptible to dangerous storms. Visit this charming group of islands with magnificent golden beaches and fresh seafood before it becomes too hazardous for visitors.
This island nation, famous for its first-class fishing, bird watching, and surfing, is at risk of becoming inhabitable by 2050 and submerged by the end of the century. The 33 coral atolls and reef islands that make up this destination are already looking at a back-up plan: The government has purchased land in Fiji, where it plans to transfer its population of 103,000 citizens.