MAJURO, MARSHALL ISLANDS, 2004

The Majuro Atoll, a long strip of land that is home to the capital

Steele-Perkins

© Chris Steele-Perkins / Magnum Photos


One of the effects of climate change is rising sea levels, which are caused by factors such as melting ice and thermal expansion. Increased water temperatures cause the water to expand and rise. It is estimated that the average sea level has risen by about 23 cm since 1880, with one-third of that increase in the last 25 years alone. This means that, if the average increase over the entire planet is 23 cm, it could be smaller in some areas, and much greater in others, significantly impacting the ecosystem. This creates a variety of problems, including soil erosion, more frequent flooding, salt-water contamination of agricultural land and groundwater, and loss of habitat for various species of plants and animals. Humans are at risk as well, with many coastal cities already considering adaptation measures, such as building dams and drainage systems, converting roads or cultivating plants like mangroves that are able to absorb large quantities of water.
The Marshall Islands are one of the most extreme examples of what this phenomenon could lead to. With their 29 atolls and five islands, the Marshall Islands’ 70,000 inhabitants face an apocalyptic scenario with their homes potentially sinking beneath the waters. The Republic’s President is considering raising the islands, at least the inhabited ones, to try to limit the damage. Right now, the only other option seems to be to abandon the islands entirely, an option that is obviously very unpopular. Although these phenomena may seem far off to us, other nations and cities that live in symbiosis with the sea share the same concerns.

Andrea Pozzobon