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Ever taken some time to think about this issue of sea level rise? No? Well, I have. Sea level rise is caused by the melting of glaciers, rocks of ice, which is caused by increased atmospheric temperature. Now, the increased atmospheric temperature is of course caused by increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Global warming is caused by human activities, with hundreds of millions of people on this planet, you have to expect a lot of human activity. When talking about human activities, it’s not just anything, like eating a sandwich; it’s about the industrial activities that release harmful substances such as carbon into the atmosphere. And yes, driving your car to work counts. That is as far as my science goes. So, is sea level rise bad for the human and animal species and survival? Yes, it sure is. Sea level rise comes with a number of adverse effects to plant and animal survival.
Scientists say the extent to which sea level rise affects a certain region or population is measured in terms of the people’s ability to handle it when it strikes. One of the places very prone to sea level rise is the Netherlands. Sea level rise promises paradise for the Dutch. Problem is the soil erosion that comes with sea level rise until now. Nobody has figured out where they will grow the onions to make soused herring. But that doesn’t worry them when they have very generous neighbors who will not hesitate to export some unless they also get swallowed up by the water. Another problem, where will the soused herring be served? Problem for another day, for now, we shall focus on where to get the onions to go with the herring.
Apart from the Netherlands, thank God they are not alone, is Kiribati. Do not forget the “ti” is pronounced as “s”, and yes, you’re welcome. This country is an island, a poor old lonely one in fact. If countries were men in a bar, you wouldn’t describe Kiribati as one of those boys with big bucks. This means, if sea level rise increases, a large population of its citizens will definitely be displaced, to another country. This means more human interactions for these guys, and because we all feel bad for them since they may now have to put up with nosy neighbors and actual social situations, something has to be done.
Dealing with the problem at grassroots is the best way to approach this. However, there are very many factors that contribute to global warming, eliminating some will involve tough decisions being made. It will involve a massive change in trade practices and other activities that obviously come at a cost, what doesn’t? Love? Yeah, that too comes at a cost. What worries most is whether the Kiribati people will consider moving or anything that will reduce their water levels. The sea is their way of life, taking a lady surfing on a ginormous wave as a first date is considered romantic whereas the rest of the world finds that suicidal unless you are a Hawaiian surf god, but that’s their kind of fun is and their country needs to be protected.
So when talking about sea level rise, the Netherlands and Kiribati are the two best-case scenarios since they are two worlds apart with the same problem but different abilities to deal with the problem. The Dutch people are a more developed nation with enough money and infrastructure to deal with the problem. Kiribati, on the other hand, may need a lot of external help in order to contain the problem. Now, it’s human nature to always postpone doing something necessary, rather choosing to cure over preventing an issue. However, this is a totally different situation that could lead to a whole island sinking in less than a decade. This means millions of people will be left homeless and others may die in the process. What should worry most is the fact that this could happen in less than a century.
Losing purpose and a sense of identity is one of those losses that are not easy to get over. It’s like losing a part of you. These islanders have lived their life in a country they call home and it will be very upsetting to watch them lose a place they’ve lived for a long time. This is why the whole world needs to come together to ensure the people of Kiribati do not lose their place of residence. Of course, we will all miss the fish and copra that comes from here too if the island sinks, won’t we? In my opinion, sea level rise is one of the least talked about issues currently, an issue that the world needs to take seriously. This attitude is attributed to the fact that those countries that are not in immediate danger and do not see the need to invest in a solution to the problem.
Lack of knowledge is one of the reasons why most people do not think sea level rise is an authentic problem. Briefly, we shall look into a few immediate effects of sea level rise to the population. First, the immediate consequences of sea level rise include floods and subsequent soil erosion (Jevrejeva, 2018). This means a lot of people could be swept away in the floods and loss of soil rich in nutrients to facilitate agriculture. When these floods strike, this is when we will see the kind and concerned side of humans coming in with foreign aid to the victims but still not doing anything on their end to prevent it from happening, let us watch. Actually, in case, it happens, heaven forbid those countries that lead in carbon emission be allowed to donate anything or even send a message.
People need to make Kiribati’s problem their problem, sorry I’m biased, but I can’t help it, it’s not just part of its population that is at risk but the whole population. This beautiful middle-income island nation is a low lying glaciated coast that is precisely 100 kilometers from the equator. This means a lot of factors facilitating sea level rise hence it being in more danger than most other places. As much as critics may decide to selectively interpret scientific research and claim that Kiribati is not in danger because of human activities, there is need to understand that if Kiribati is in trouble, so is the whole world. Saving this nation is saving the world and not just one island. There is the need for increased awareness on the issue in order to inspire passion and action. No offense but, making music videos later when disaster has already stricken and lives lost, does not make any difference. We are the world and the people only if we help avert the disaster, not doing photo ops of distributing relief food.
Speculations are widespread that Kiribati is not receiving the help they need because the issue of sea level rise is not real. These speculations point to the idea that the sea level rise scare is a plastic problem created by politicians to cash out on money from generous donors. Of course, you and your wallet lose when you give. However, it is safe to believe that this is yet another political trick, Lord! It is okay to believe the political trick, the problem is when one looks at Kiribati as a country, besides the sea level rise, there is a lot that the money could be used for. Its infrastructure is not the best, and you wonder why a country that is an island with many more islands and good weather is not a tourist magnet.
Claims that the sea level rise story is a typical “crying wolf” scenario especially by politicians could be one of the greatest damages a government could do for its citizens. Science is based on facts, although some of them can be too difficult to take in, like how can we just sink? Not reasonable, right? Agreed, but what if we are actually sinking? A not so wise man once said, “You’d rather live like there is no heaven and die to find there is one”. This is the line the people around low lying coasts should borrow, the world needs their fish and this is not the time to “sink out on us”.
As much as there is so much competition in the urban jungle to survive, there needs to be a healthy balance that will ensure we do not tamper with the natural part of the planet. As mentioned earlier, there needs to be a change in trade practices to ensure there is healthy competition and every law implemented is geared towards ensuring the natural environment is protected. The human species is known to use its ingenuity to survive anywhere and it is clear that sometimes these efforts cause more harm than the intended good. Allowing Kiribati and any other place prone to sea level rise to suffer the consequences of the actions of the whole world will show just how much humans have become very selfish beings who are ready to sacrifice one of their own to advance their individual lives. This is one great opportunity human beings can take to stand with of their own rather than bury their heads in the sand and assume the problem will not eventually catch up with them.
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