Seas Could Leave
Millions Homeless In Asia
By Michael Perry
11 October, 2006
Millions of people could become
homeless in the Asia-Pacific region by 2070 due to rising sea levels,
with Bangladesh, India, Vietnam, China and Pacific islands most at risk,
says Australia's top scientific body.
A climate change report by
the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO)
found global warming in the Asia Pacific region could cause sea levels
to rise by up to 16 cm (six inches) by 2030 and up to 50 cm (19 inches)
Rising temperatures will also result in increased rainfall during the
summer monsoon season in Asia and could cause more intense tropical
storms, inundating low-lying coastal villages.
"The coastlines of Asia-Pacific
nations are generally highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change,
particularly sea-level rise caused by rising global temperatures,"
said the CSIRO report released on Monday.
"Vast areas of the Asia-Pacific
are low lying, particularly the small-island states, as well as the
large river deltas found in India and Bangladesh, Southeast Asia and
Sea level rise between 30
to 50 cm (11 to 19 inches) would affect more than 100,000 km (62,140
miles) of coast, particularly China's Pearl Delta and Bangladesh's delta,
said the report.
"As sea level rise exceeds
half a meter, the area affected in the Asia-Pacific region rises to
over half a million square kilometres, affecting hundreds of millions
of people," it said.
"Large areas of Bangladesh,
India, Vietnam are inundated and Kiribati, Fiji and the Maldives are
reduced to just a small fraction of their current land area."
The report also said rising
sea levels and increased rainfall would spread infectious diseases in
the region, leaving millions more at risk of dengue fever and malaria.
It said local and regional
economies would be hard hit by chronic food and water insecurity, warning
Sri Lanka's GDP could fall by 2.4 percent with less than a two degree
The report also warned of
environmental refugees fleeing their flooded homelands, citing growing
migration from some South Pacific island states already suffering rising
Some 17,000 islanders applied
for New Zealand residence in the last two years, compared with 4,000
in 2003, it said.
The low-lying South Pacific
island nation of Micronesia has experienced an annual sea level rise
of 21.4 mm since 2001.
The report, commissioned
by Australian aid agencies, prompted calls for Canberra to do more to
combat climate change and to be more open to environmental refugees.
Australia has not signed
the Kyoto Protocol to cut greenhouse gases, which cause global warming,
and has rejected requests from Pacific islands to take environmental
World Vision Australia chief,
Reverend Tim Costello, called on Australia to review immigration programs
to consider people displaced by rising sea levels.
"This is enlightened
self-interest, because there are going to be so many environmental refugees
knocking on our door, flooding here with the sea levels rise as predicted
and...the failure of economics and crops because of the rain changes
in so many of these countries," Costello told local radio.
Copyright © 2006 Reuters
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