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A Serious Issue

A rise in sea levels has been noticed everywhere… from Mumbai to New York, and it could pose a serious threat to the global community in the coming years. UN Secretary General António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres recently expressed concern about this, saying that the sea level rise could have a serious impact on major cities, like Mumbai and New York. He pointed out that the Climate Crisis was the main cause of the rise in sea levels.

Delivering a grim speech to the UN Security Council’s (UNSC) first-ever meeting on the Threat to International Peace and Security from Rising Sea Levels in the third week of February, the UN Chief stressed that sea levels would rise significantly even if Global Warming is “miraculously” limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius (or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), the elusive international goal. He added: “Mega-cities on every continent will face serious effects, including Cairo, Lagos, Maputo, Bangkok, Dhaka, Jakarta, Mumbai, Shanghai, Copenhagen, London, Los Angeles, New York, Buenos Aires and Santiago.” Guterres added: “Global average sea levels have risen faster since 1900 than over any preceding century in the last 3,000 years. The global ocean has warmed faster over the past century than at any time in the past 11,000 years.

According to the UN Secretary General, “every fraction of a degree in Global Warming counts, as sea level rise could double if temperatures rise by 2 degrees Celsius (or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and could increase exponentially with further temperature increases“.

Earlier, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) released data on the grave danger of rising seas, mentioning that the global mean sea level would rise by about 2-3mt (about 6.5-9.8ft) over the next 2,000 years, if the international community could manage to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, an increase of 2-degree Celsius could trigger the rise of sea levels up to 6mt (19.7ft), and a 5-degree Celsius increase could raise the levels up to 22mt (72ft).

According to the WMO, nearly 75 countries, including some landlocked countries, are in a vulnerable situation, as the impact of the continuous rise in sea levels would make it difficult for their people to survive. Commenting on the issue, Guterres stated that the UNSC would have to play a critical role in building the Political Will required for addressing the Climate Crisis (which is the root cause of rising seas).

It may be noted that the relentless increase in global sea levels puts countries, like Bangladesh, China, India and the Netherlands, at risk, apart from acutely endangering nearly 900 million people living in low-lying coastal areas.

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