The effects of climate change have already begun altering lives across the globe. Not every region is affected equally.
Below are four populated areas around the world that have been most affected by climate change so far.
1. The Carteret Islands
photo from WikiMedia Commons
One of the most profound examples of climate change’s escalating impact can be found in The Carteret Islands.
Due to rising sea levels, some of the world’s first climate change refugees now hail from this small island. It can be found just off of the coast of Papua New Guinea.
Salt water from the ocean’s rising tides have made their previously fertile soil unsuitable for farming. This has forced many to move to the larger island of Bougainville.
Experts predict the entire island will become uninhabitable this year.
2. Newtok, Alaska
photo by Alaska National Guard via Flickr
Much like The Carteret Islands, many of Newtok’s climate change related crises, are also related to rising sea levels.
This particular region however, isn’t threatened by the sea’s effect on farmland. But rather its melting effect on the permafrost ground, atop which many residents of Newtok live.
The warming Bering Sea, which Newtok borders, is beginning to melt such permafrost (and consequently erode land) so ferociously that some experts believe that the entire village may be swept away in the next five years.
Furthermore, the funding of Newtok villagers relocation,which was expected to cost $130 million, has been halted. This is due to what The Guardian describes as “internal political conflict and a freeze on government funds.”
3. Gansu Province, China
photo by Peter via Flickr
In Gansu Province, China water isn’t the problem–it’s the lack thereof. Droughts and arid land have caused dust storms and crippled farmers’ ability to produce crops.
According to a government census report on water, 28,000 of China’s 50,000’s rivers have already disappeared; a trend that could spell disaster for those in already water-deficient regions like Gansu.
4. Darfur, Sudan
Though climate change’s effects on physical landscapes may be the focal point of the issue. The unintended sociopolitical effects of such alterations, may turn out to be even more concerning.
In Darfur climate change-fueled conflicts have arisen due to the depletion of natural resources and have in turn spurred turf wars between native tribes.
The U.N. fears that battles over fertile land and resources may destabilize a tenuous peace accord between North and South Sudan–a war which raged for nearly a half-century until 2005.
Climate change is projected to create as many as 150 million refugees worldwide by 2050. This is a problem that will likely only get worse unless major changes, in global carbon emissions are made.
Much of the rising sea level is caused by melting ice sheets, both within Greenland and the Antarctic. Scientists estimate that if Greenland’s ice sheets were to melt that sea levels would rise by 20 feet–enough to submerge five major coastal cities in the U.S.
In order to avoid the catastrophic, world governments will be tasked with reducing carbon emissions drastically in the years to follow, and if not, we at least have a few tricks up our sleeves.