Environment for Beginners arrow Water Pollution and Solutions arrow How Does the Sea Level Rise and What are the Problems Related to It?
Environment for Beginners


"We're in a giant car heading towards a brick wall and everyones arguing over where they're going to sit." - David Suzuki

How Does the Sea Level Rise and What are the Problems Related to It?

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One of today’s prevalent water issues is the rise in sea level. It is mainly caused by two phenomena: global warming and ozone depletion. The water expands as it gets warmer, and also the sea level rises when chunks from ice shelves located in the two poles fall into the water.

Antarctica and Greenland contain the largest amount of ice on land, and when it melts, it falls into the ocean causing a rise in sea level. We can observe the same reaction by piling up cubes of ice in a glass of water. After the ice melts, the water level in the glass is higher than before. It works the same way on Earth. The melting of glaciers over land raises the sea level by approximately one inch per decade and could eventually cover part of the land we have now.

Cities situated near the ocean might experience some problems

The problem goes from bad to worse when we take into consideration that one third of the world population lives in a 60 km range from the coast. In the event of a flood, this massive population would have to move away from the coasts, unless they built a barrier like in the Netherlands. But realistically speaking, this is a very expensive and complex procedure that most countries of the third world wouldn’t be able to put in place.

The rise in sea level would inevitably cause massive migration like never seen before. It would create social and economical conflicts, and even military ones. History shows that massive migration not only causes conflicts between the sedentary and the nomadic, it also spreads disease. World War I is one example where more death occurred after the war due to diseases than during the conflicts in 1914-1918. Now let’s imagine the chaos when one third of the population tries to fit in new areas.

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