By Bahauddin Foizee
The fact that India has coastlines on Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal as well as deep into the Indian Ocean makes the country highly vulnerable to the rise in sea-level.
It is projected that a substantial portion of the Indian coastal landmass, which has 55 million inhabitants, will be submerged if there is a global increase in temperature of 4 degrees Celsius, though the objective of the 2015 UN climate summit in Paris was to cap the rise to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Even with this 2 degrees Celsius increase, some 20 million coastal inhabitants in India would still be affected adversely, as they would lose their homes.
There’s prediction about Bangladesh too, that around 6-8% of ‘flood-prone’ Bangladesh may be submerged under water by 2030.
Like India and Bangladesh, another South Asian country, Pakistan, is also facing environmental threats from rising sea levels. Already the coastal areas in Pakistani provinces of Sindh and Balochistan have been facing vulnerability to the rise in sea-level — with the possibilities of decline in drinking water quality and decrease in fish and shrimp productivity.
Moreover, the freshwater sources in the coastal areas of Pakistan, including rivers and aquifers, face deep intrusion of saline water from sea and ocean due to mounting sea-levels — a vulnerability that Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and Thailand too face during the dry season.
Furthermore, Thailand and Myanmar are also facing vulnerabilities due to the increasing rise in seal-level. Bangkok (Thailand) is at the risk of submerging into the sea within a matter of few decades, as the city has been sinking 10 centimetres every year. As for Myanmar, a substantial portion of the country’s coastal areas is predicted to be submerged under water by 2050.
If the climate continues to deteriorate in this manner, millions of inhabitants living in the coastal areas of these countries would be forced to become climate refugees.