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Rising sea levels

Health effects of rising sea levels in Bangladesh and Ghana
What happens if the glaciers that provide water to about a billion people melt? What happens if food production goes down? What happens in urban settlements where people are very precariously housed, don’t have access to food and water? What happens to their lives in a changing climate?
More than half of the world’s population lives within 60 kilometers of the coastline. People may be forced to move and that in turn heightens a range of other health effects based on displacement or communicable disease.
About five years ago, the sea started coming into the room. So, we were compelled to leave the place. Abandon the place and find somewhere else.
This is a bedroom to my wife. This is my own room.
I’ve lost my land. Everything depends on land. I’ve lost my land. I’ve lost relations who are displaced. Young men and women who should work here and make their life have all gone away.
We’re experiencing erosion as much as between four and eight metres per year. We used to have structures along the entire coast of Ada. The majority of these structures are now under the ocean. So erosion is massive. Now, global warming as the result of climate change is the main cause of the sea level rise we are experiencing.
I used to own nearly 3 acres of land. The sea has taken all of it. Now I live by working for others and catching fish.
The sea near Kutubdia has changed since I was a child. The water level of the sea is higher than before. We have to start everything from scratch, and now I have kids.
The island of Kutubdia was 54 square kilometres at one point. Now it’s only 27 square kilometres, based on different surveys. The migration is taking place continuously. They came from Kutubdia after losing their homes because climate change and the ocean encroaching their land. People who had plenty have nothing now. More than 100,000 people became homeless from Kutubdia and are living in different districts of Cox’s Bazar. They live as refugees. If I had money, I would live in a different place.

Read this text before watching the video above.

As the earth warms, the ice frozen in glaciers and at the poles will melt into the oceans. The added volume of water – and the expansion that comes from water warming – will cause the world’s oceans to rise slowly over the coming century.

People living at the coast will experience storm surges, coastal erosion, saline intrusion, and submergence (IPCC Chapter 5). Small island nations will be directly impacted by sea level rise, coral bleaching, ocean acidification and reductions in tourist numbers (IPCC Chapter 5).

The combined effects of sea level rise and extreme weather events will increasingly challenge our capacity to maintain transportation networks and energy infrastructure, and provide fresh water (IPCC Chapter 12). Cities in the Asian megadeltas are particularly exposed to infrastructure failures and systemic risks (IPCC Chapter 19). Rural populations in developing countries are especially vulnerable to the combined effects of climate change, under-investment in agriculture, land and natural resource policy, and processes of environmental degradation (IPCC Chapter 9).

This video shows the effects of rising sea levels that have already occurred in Ghana and Bangladesh, displacing coastal communities and forcing migration.


D. McCoy and N.Watts. 2015. Climate Change: Health Impacts and Opportunities a Summary and Discussion of the IPCC Working Group 2 Report.

IPCC, 2014: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Field, C.B., V.R. Barros, D.J. Dokken, K.J. Mach, M.D. Mastrandrea, T.E. Bilir, M. Chatterjee, K.L. Ebi, Y.O. Estrada, R.C. Genova, B. Girma, E.S. Kissel, A.N. Levy, S. MacCracken, P.R. Mastrandrea, and L.L.White (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, 1132 pp.

For suggestions for further reading, please see the ‘See Also’ section at the end of this page.’

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