Written By Zoya Ali.
The climate of the world has started changing due to the industrial revolution and greenhouse gas increase. This is not only causing the global temperature to rise but is slowing down ocean currents, disturbing the el Nino effect, melting glaciers but also causing the sea level to rise drastically.
The sea level has been rising since the 1800s when London (at the time the heart of the world), the first place to be industrialized started using cheap coal. That not only caused greenhouse gases to increase but also caused the first case of smog. Smog is a mixture of smoke and fog. Smog is of two types, photochemical or industrial.
Photochemical being worse than industrial ones causing death and lung diseases. Smog contains tiny particles called aerosols in them which are 100 times smaller than dust and when inhaled can cause a heart attack.
The 3 main effects of this phenomenon are change in climate, sea-level rise, slowing down of ocean currents. Change in Climate is happening rapidly around the world. Affecting the El Nino as well as all-weather phenomena and disrupting the water cycle.
The change in climate is putting a large threat and stress on industrial-based economies. The change in climate affects the soil, temperature, water which will eventually affect the crop or will make the product less.
This puts stress on the farmers who then use fertilisers and pesticides to make the crops grow faster and better which again affects the farmers- soil and water more. The change in climate has left us in a cycle which is going to break sooner or later and that will be our downfall.
The sea level rises due to the melting of glaciers which happens due to global temperature rise. Sea level rise is not only bad for the fish as the salinity and minerals in the water start to increase but also the top of every food chain- humans. Humans are affected by sea-level rise directly and indirectly. Sea level rise is causing the coastline to become smaller and smaller year by year, it is slow but the rate it is going at is very alarming.
Many cities across the world have a 96% chance of being underwater by 2050. Rising sea level will affect 3 times more people by 2050. Rising sea level will not only put stress on other lands where people have migrated from but also cause many conflicts all over the world.
Sea level rise will not only affect humans and land animals but also the Marine ecosystem immensely. When the sea level rises it becomes harder and harder for sunlight to reach the algae, plants, phytoplankton at the bed of the sea. No sunlight means one of the key ingredients for photosynthesis to take place has gone.
This leads to the plants dying which is one of the worst trophic cascades to ever exist which would disrupt food chains and food webs and eventually the entire ecosystem. Putting stress on countries that have fish-based industries.
This will not only affect the country the city belongs to but also the other countries who are dependent on the country for food, oil, etc. Small islands mostly in the Atlantic are at great risk due to climate change and sea-level rise.
What would happen if the sea level rises enough to submerge an entire city? The sea level is rising faster and faster every year putting more and more cities in danger and causing more and more havoc. Our marine ecosystem along with our land ecosystem will all be destroyed slowly and steadily.
Cities That Are Sinking Due To Global Warming
1. Jakarta, Indonesia
Jakarta, Indonesia is the fastest sinking city in the world. North Jakarta North Jakarta is expected to submerge underwater up to 95% by the end of 2050 and has already sunk 2.5 metres in the last 10 years and continuously sinking by almost 25 centimetres every year.
This rate of sinking is double the global average for coastal megacities of the world. It is sinking by an average of 1-15 cm per year with almost half the city submerged under the sea. Nothing could be more alarming than this. North Jakarta has for long been one of the busiest port cities of Indonesia.
The Ciliwung River flows into the Java Sea here and this was the reason why this city transformed into a hub after the Dutch colonists chose to settle here.
There are two major reasons behind this. One is excessive extraction of groundwater as piped water is not available in most areas. The second reason being climate change which causes a rise in sea levels during extreme weather events which leads to flooding as the embankments break.
2. London, United Kingdom
Large parts of the capital of the United Kingdom is under the threat of submerging due to the rising sea level. Global warming will lead to flooding of the Thames river if timely no reinforcement strategies are implemented. Sea levels are expected to rise by over 40cm unless global warming is limited to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
The iconic British capital’s prehistoric past is a large contributor to this problem. During the last ice age, glaciers in Northern Europe pushed the earth’s crust towards Scotland that resulted in Scotland rising at around 1 mm each year. London is also sinking at the same rate and therefore making it vulnerable to climate change.
Some of the most important buildings like the Tower of London and the Houses of Parliament and cultural spaces like Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe all lie at the length of the Thames river.
3. Miami, Florida
They say “Retreat while there is still time” and this quote is becoming more relevant as days pass by. The most lucrative beach destination in the world is just 3 feet above sea level and is at the risk of being submerged at the end of this century.
The government has begun planning on how to save Miami from this disaster and is already spending millions. The “sunny day” floods of Miami is four times more common today than it was 15 years back and claims a good amount of land during the fall and spring season.
By 2030, the sea level could rise by another 6 inches and a total of 2 feet by 2060. This would result in the displacement of around one-third of the population currently residing in Miami-Dade county. The area of Miami is an extensive wetland and sits on a porous stone that acts like a sponge.
Due to the floods during the summer rainy season, Miamians are often spotted kayaking along flooded avenues and cars submerged to their windows. Along with Jakarta as days go by Miami will also become “the most vulnerable major coastal city in the world”.
4. Venice, Italy
Venice is defined by water in every sense possible. Venice’s iconic canals attract 20 million tourists every year. Severe flooding due to climate catastrophe has left the most attractive Italian city underwater.
The waters in Venice have risen by 6 feet or 1.87 meters according to the tide monitoring centre. Four major floods have already taken place in the past 20 years.
The major sights in the city, St Mark’s Square, St Mark’s Basilica and the crypt have all faced severe flooding. Many businesses were affected and people have also died. Climate change has led to unusual weather patterns and an increase in the occurrence of Acqua Alta (high water tides).
5. Kolkata, India
In India, an estimated 31 million people live in coastal areas which face the annual risk of flooding. The number of people living in these areas is increasing day by day and can reach up to 51 million by 2100.
As the water level rises, salt waters from the sea enter inland, leaving behind a land unfit for cultivation. The state of West Bengal whose Kolkata is the capital is on the rise in undocumented internal migration as huge parts of Bangladesh is set to become more saline.
All the factors together are impacting warming oceans that have already led to an increase in climatic events such as cyclones which have left many people living in the coastal areas in distress.
6. Mexico City, Mexico
An article by WIRED reported that Mexico City could sink up to 65 feet. Mexico is heavily dependent upon groundwater extraction which was already a major cause for its sinking. Excessive groundwater extraction by a large number of Mexican people is leading to land subsidence.
This phenomenon has been made worse with the effects of climate change. Since the 1960s Mexico is getting warmer and there is no foresight telling that this trend would change. More heat and drought due to increased temperatures are leading to more evaporation and therefore increasing the demand for water. This is speeding up the extraction of water from underground aquifers.
Mexico City which lies high up in the mountains is a prime example of the fact that not just coastal cities are under the threat of climate change. Climate change is exposing the biggest vulnerabilities of the top cities in the world.
7. New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is a shipping hub for goods that come down the Mississippi River and also imports from abroad. New Orleans thrives on its shipping industry which is now under the threat of deadly storms. Due to rising water levels, many of its port facilities in the lowest part of the river will soon cease to exist.
Increased frequency of hurricanes. The tropical storm season is occurring earlier than before leading to more flooding events. Over 50 percent of the city is already below sea level and another three quarters will face the same situation by 2050.
A study conducted by NASA and California Institute of Technology found that New Orleans is losing around 2 inches annually.
Also Read: Unsolved Mysteries Of The Bermuda Triangle
8. Bruges, Belgium
Bruges is famous for its canals, cobbled streets and medieval buildings. The city is often termed as the ‘Venice of the North’ for its intricate network of canals. It is originally the landing place on the Zwijn estuary into which the Reie river flows.
Today due to rising sea levels have threatened the beautiful medieval architecture that spans the city along its canals. Climate change may lead to rising sea levels which could lead to rising water levels of the canals and hence resulting in floods.
9. Lagos, Nigeria
Lagos is the most populated city in Africa with more than 24 million people residing here. It is also the most vulnerable to sea-level rise caused by climate change.
With time the intensity of rain is expected to increase which will leave behind flooded streets full of rubbish as the disposal system of Lagos is dysfunctional. Whenever there is heavy downpour rubbish piles up in open gutters and therefore moving in the streets gets difficult.
It has been predicted that 90 cm of sea level rise can occur if global warming exceeds 2C by 2100. The whole architecture of Lagos needs to be rebuilt in order to survive the effects of sea-level rise.
10. Mumbai, India
As we head towards the next century, the financial capital of India has a good chance of being submerged. Heavy rains and cyclones already have made the city prone to floods and sea waves lashing at its shores, daring to enter the roads of the city.
Mumbai is a densely populated city and during monsoon every year the city is bound to be flooded with trees getting uprooted, people experiencing water entering into their homes and even houses being brought down.
If climate change goes unchecked then it would lead to a hard turn for all the people living in Mumbai.
We do not have a long time till 2050 if we don’t want the remaining lands which are not underwater to have a normal life without exceeding the carrying capacity of land. We need to act fast by working towards sustainability or the 2030 global sustainable goals.
This includes Climate Action and if good and efficient steps are taken we might be able to stop many cities from going underwater.
Even before the sea level rises so much to submerge cities it will make all the seawater heavily salinized and toxic, before the stage of causing a trophic cascade it would cause bioaccumulation and biomagnification which would all together affect and damage the top predator humans, this would cause many health problems.
The melting of icebergs would also expose us to million-year-old diseases that we have no defence over. The melting of icebergs releases minerals and salts into the oceans which will not only affect animals and humans but also the ocean currents.
Ocean Currents work through salinity and temperature with the poles becoming warmer and more and more salts in the ocean it would slow down, make faster or stop the ocean currents altogether.
Climate Change directly or indirectly affects all of us from a natural or economic point of view. From the countries and cities sinking to many countries’ economies being under stress. Countries whose economies are mainly agriculturally based are under a lot of stress from a cultural and economic point of view.
So, climate change not only causes countries near the coast to sink and go underwater because of sea-level rise but also many countries’ economies. Climate change could also lead to beautiful and sensitive animals going extinct and cause a trophic cascade which would not only affect food chains and food webs but also the top predator- humans.
Climate change does not only affect countries but also each individual human. Climate change is so dangerous that it has created the Anthropocene- the age of humankind. Homo sapiens have been trying to change the world, control nature and make the world a better place to live.
We have succeeded in changing the world and controlling nature but not at making the world a better place to live. Nature and climate are global forces and we; humans have been trying to control these global forces by being controlled by them.
Our impact on the earth has been more in the past century than in the last 250000 years of mankind. Our impact on this biosphere has been so dramatic that it has led to the dawn of a new unofficial geological era- The Anthropocene, the age of humankind.
The Anthropocene is an unofficial geological era. Since there is no defined start of the Anthropocene, humans are yet to figure out when their impact on this earth started, it can date back to the end of the ice age or to the industrial revolution or even the present day. Officially we live in the Holocene epoch which began 11,700 years ago after the last major ice age.
The world’s climate has a pattern there will be a cold era followed by a warm era (currently called the Holocene) (this pattern repeats itself) but with human activities, climate change and global temperatures rising every year the cold age has been delayed, leading to the emergence of a new era- the Anthropocene.
Our impact and through the creation of the new geological era, our futures are uncertain, and the Anthropocene has been presented to other sciences as a mystery no one can tell what the future holds for us; it will be like a new world, discovering every landmass all over again.
So, we will have to adapt really fast. And yet mankind has turned a blind eye to the entire existence of climate change, with a flat earth attitude. We are playing Russian roulette with our planet and one day the bullet will fire and not hit the Earth. Humankind will be destroyed, leaving behind nature to begin again. (the Chernobyl)
With every new geological, historical or revolutionary era there is the emergence of a new form or style of literature. Even though the Anthropocene is unofficial and many people don’t believe in the existence of climate change or the Anthropocene, its influence on the literary heritage of our world is great.
With the industrial revolution for example we saw an emergence of poets and writers like Williams Wordsworth, Cockermouth, Cumberland, Samuel Taylor Coleridge who were greatly affected by the changes, and so began a new era in literature- The Romantic Movement (18th century) which celebrated nature and life.
Presently when it comes to literature, we are in the Contemporary Period, which started after world war II, which include not only society’s social and political viewpoints, often shown through realistic characters, reflection on current events and socioeconomic messages.
But the Anthropocene as a literary device is a mystery and might have just started a few years ago or might date back to the romantic period of literature or even back to the times of Shakespeare or even to Michael Berg’s fantasy.
Is there a relation between the Anthropocene and music and should there be one? With every new phenomenon and change, we come up with new stories. Stories give us the ability to simplify the world in a way we understand. In these times what better way to tell the story than through a song.
Music and stories help influence people and spread awareness, but they also make our world, a world without our responsibilities towards nature and climate change. The Anthropocene has given us the chance to evolve through music and literature.
Covid 19- the virus of The Anthropocene. Now the Anthropocene is caused by global warming and even though it is vital for our survival it is the cause of a whole new unofficial geological era. Covid 19 a virus that has taken over the world in less than a year has cleared the streets, stopped the economy and even stopped climate change (by stopping humans).
The Anthropocene or the delaying of a cold age has never been seen before so who knows what the future might hold for us. But Covid 19 has slowed down climate change. Who knows if it continues and if the economies don’t start again let’s say there might not be an Anthropocene after all.
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