8 World Cities That Could Be Underwater as Oceans Rise
If global temperatures rise above 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels—the ideal temperature limit set by the Paris agreement—global sea levels will rise by more than 40 centimeters (approximately 15.7 inches) by 2100. If temperatures top 2° Celsius, sea level rise will be more than 50 centimeters (approximately 20 inches) by century's end. This could be devastating to coastal cities around the world that are already vulnerable to storms and flooding because of geological or urban planning factors.
That is the finding of a report from Christian Aid looking at eight coastal cities especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The Christian Aid report is one of several from organizations around the world being published in anticipation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on how and if the world can achieve the 1.5° Celsius goal, The Guardian reported. The IPCC report, scheduled to be released on Monday, is expected to say that the 1.5° goal is possible with urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Christian Aid report helps illuminate what is at stake.
"These global metropolises may look strong and stable, but it is a mirage. As sea levels rise, they are increasingly under threat and under water," report author Kat Kramer told The Guardian.
Jakarta, Indonesia: At a rate of 25.4 centimeters (approximately 10 inches) per year, Jakarta is the world's fastest sinking city. Much of this sinking is due to the digging of illegal wells to access groundwater, since surface drinking water options are too polluted to be safe. Because more than 97 percent of the city is covered in concrete, the groundwater is not replenished by rain and rivers. The city is also sinking due to the weight of its buildings. In addition, natural flood barriers like mangroves have been cut down to clear space for housing.
Bangkok, Thailand: Bangkok faces a similar problem of skyscrapers pushing down on water-depleted soils. A study released by the city government in 2015 predicted it could be underwater within 15 years. Bangkok has taken some action to preserve groundwater, such as the Ground Water Act of 1977 that restricted the amount of groundwater extracted. The city is now sinking at a slower rate than before, and water is being pumped back into the ground, but it is not enough to save the city from rising seas.
Lagos, Nigeria: Lagos is built on the coast and incorporates a series of islands. Poor drainage worsened the impact of devastating floods in 2011, and some estimates say that just 20 centimeters (approximately 8 inches) of sea level rise could render 740,000 people across Nigeria homeless. Lagos also faces the problem of excessive groundwater extraction. In addition, authorities are planning the construction of a new island called Eko Atlantic, planned as a new capital and financial center and designed to be protected by a sea wall. There are concerns the new development could worsen flooding for the rest of coastal and island Lagos by pushing flood waters its way.
Manila, Philippines: Manila is also sinking due to groundwater extraction at a rate of 10 centimeters (approximately 4 inches) per year, 10 times the rate of climate-caused sea level rise. Another problem is its extensive rice fields, which consume more water than other crops and increase flood risk when illegal fish ponds are built in tidal channels.
Dhaka, Bangladesh: Dhaka is sinking at a rate of 1.4 centimeters (approximately 0.55 inches) per year, and sea level rise in the Bay of Bengal is apparently around 10 times the global average. About 1.5 million people have already migrated from coastal villages to the city's slums. Dhaka's woes are made worse by groundwater extraction. The fact that the Indian plate and Burman sub-plate are moving in a way that causes Dhaka to subside adds to its woes, though groundwater extraction plays a larger role in its sinking than plate tectonics.
Shanghai, China: Shanghai is another major city sinking under the weight of its own development as groundwater extraction and increased building cause it to subside. It is also losing sediment that would naturally protect it because its rivers are dammed or because it is used for building materials. Shanghai did work to take action against sinking by requiring official permits for wells from 1995 and sourcing more water from the river, and it has reduced its sinking from nine centimeters (approximately 3.5 inches) to one centimeter (approximately 0.4 inches) per year. It has also caused land to rise in some places by pumping water back into the ground. The report pointed out that in some places land had risen by 11 centimeters (approximately 4.3 inches), which is the difference between the sea level rise predicted for 1.5 and two degrees of warming.
London, England: During the last ice age, glaciers pressed down on Scotland, causing the south of UK land mass to rise. Now that the glaciers have melted, Scotland is rising at a rate of 1 millimeter (approximately 0.04 inches) per year, and the south of England, including London, is sinking. The Thames Barrier, opened in 1984 to protect London from a one-in-100-year flood, was expected to be used two to three times a year. It is currently used double that, six to seven times yearly.
Houston, Texas: Houston sits on the Buffalo Bayou and is naturally flood prone for that reason, but it also is sinking due to groundwater extraction and, ironically, from the extraction of oil and natural gas from the ground beneath it. The Houston-Galveston area has already lowered by three cubic meters (approximately 105.9 inches), and the northwest is sinking by two inches a year.
Sea Level Rise Could Put 2.4 MIllion U.S. Coastal Homes at Risk https://t.co/WjKrpxfnoA @OneWorld_News @ClimateDesk— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1529442609.0
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Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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