THE SEA LEVEL IS RISING -> SMALL ISLANDS ARE SINKING

According to the UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), the sea level has risen about 10-25 cm in the last 100 years. This is attributed to the global warming. Emissions of greenhouse gases caused by humans are the main cause of the change in the weather patterns. The most harmful gas emitted by the human activity (carbon dioxide) is responsible for 85% of the increase in temperature on the Earth over the past 10 years. What does it mean for the planet?

When we look at the world geography, we see that both developed and developing countries in the world are equally suffering from the consequences of the latest changes. The northern countries (Greenland, Scandinavian countries) witness iceberg melting what causes the shrinking of the habitat of animals such as polar bears, seals or whales.

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The countries whose territories are located just little above the sea level face a big threat of disappearing due to the increasing sea level. Let me mention island countries such as the Seychelles, Maldives, Indonesia, Tuvalu or Kiribati, and continent countries such as Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Bangladesh, the UAE, Bahrain or Oman. Rich countries take the advantage of having funds to protect their land against floods, such as the Netherlands, while poor countries face the threat of disappearance.

Small Caribbean islands as well as some island states in the Pacific will be among the first to suffer from the current sea level rise, what means an immediate disaster for them, since 99.9% of its tourist infrastructure is on the coast, and even more, their existence is at risk. The sea level rising, the increasing number of natural disasters and other negative variables related to the climate change will affect tourism, agriculture and fisheries, infrastructure, availability of drinking water and many other socio-economic parameters of these islands. Coral reefs and mangrove trees are natural barriers which help strengthen the survival of these countries. If the coral reefs are dying (due to higher sea temperature), clearly the islands are more vulnerable…

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The UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has chosen 2014 the year of SIDS (small island developing states), which comprise geographical areas such as the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. One of the most important activities of the Year is the campaign of raising awareness of environmental challenges affecting them, what is most needed.

It seems unfair to me that the first victims who suffer from the climate change caused by technocratic and most advanced societies producing the highest emission levels of greenhouse gases are the small states that live in harmony with the nature and are not at all responsible for this situation… Therefore, it is the obligation of the international community to support small island states, in particular, by promoting the upcoming agreement on the reduction of emissions and the threat of climate change consequences for these nations – they owe it!

Michaela Šáškyová

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