Global Landmarks At Risk From Climate Change Driven Rising Sea Levels

 

Sydney_Opera_House_

Sydney_Opera_House_

Image via – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney_Opera_House

It is a very worrying prediction that some iconic global landmarks, from the Statue of Liberty, through London’s Tower Bridge to the Sydney Opera House could well be lost forever, because climate-change driven rising sea levels seem likely to overwhelm them all as this century nears the next.

 Only a mere three degree increase in global temperatures could see 20% – that is 720 world heritage sites – being inundated, as ice sheets melt, warming oceans expand and the waters creep inexorably higher all over the globe. This Environmental Research Journal study claimed that the first impacts would be felt much sooner without action on flood defences.

Tower_of_London

Tower_of_London

Image via –  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tower_of_London – Bob Collowan/Commons/CC-BY-SA-3.0

Lead author, Austrian University of Innsbruck  Professor Ben Marzeion stated that humanity will see these events in this century, the cultural implications obviously very serious. Places such as Venice are already suffering, and other sites likely to be affected by rising waters are many.

These include, for example city centres from Bruges in Belgium to St Petersburg in Russia, as well as Westminster Abbey and Westminster Palace. It seems likely that South-east Asia, where sea levels rises will hit hardest, could well have the highest number of people affected.

The  climate science panel of the United Nations – the IPCC – has stated an expected rise of as much as 82cm by 2100, though scientists are unable to confirm this, some feeling the figure may actually prove to be higher, and that by 2300, sea levels could be as much as three metres higher than today.

There is no doubt that the threat to cultural sites from the sea is very real, but in all likelihood going to be severely underestimated, because there are many factors, including temporary rises in sea levels caused by storm surges, to be taken into account, These cannot be quantified, so researchers preferred to err on the side of conservative estimates. Whether the threat to these cultural sites will impact on the debate about this topic remains to be seen, but it is something we all need to bear in mind, because the heritage of the human race is under serious threat now, especially if we fail to act.

Venice

Venice

Image via – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Collage_Venezia.jpg


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2 Comments

  1. Tony H Leather

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