Islands you need to visit before they disappear

Come from: 2014/04/10

These tropical paradises and famous urban islands are threatened by rising sea levels, and may be underwater in the next 50 or 100 years.

Just north of the equator in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives’ 1,190 islands attract honeymooners and beachgoers (nearly a million per year) for their beautiful beaches, five-star resorts, and beautiful dives. Yet these islands lie just five feet above sea level, leaving scientists predicting that rising tides could flood the islands by the turn of the century.

Mohamed Nasheed
the Maldives president from 2008 to 2012, conducted an underwater cabinet meeting in 2009 (picture members of the cabinet with scuba gear and wet suits communicating via hand signals), to draw attention to the emission of greenhouse gases that are contributing to the rising sea levels.

Connected to mainland Italy by bridges, Venice is sinking at .08 inches per year or a whole inch every 12.5 years, according to a 2012 report. Floods are becoming more frequent: In 1900 the main area around St. Marks flooded about 10 times a year while now it floods nearly 100 times per year. To save Venice, the government has begun a multibillon-dollar project to install flood-protection gates, the largest of which will weigh 250 to 300 tons. Yet some worry this is only a temporary solution.

Off the coast of Kenya, Seychelles’ 115 coral and granite islands are home to lush jungles and beautiful waterfalls. Over the past century, climate change in the Indian Ocean has damaged the coral reefs that protect the islands, leading some to predict that much of the islands will be underwater by the end of the century. The UAE has installed eight wind turbines on Seychelles in an effort to cut back on carbon emissions and slow global warming. Yet the islands themselves are responsible for less than .1 percent of emissions, so these measures will likely not be enough to save them.

Located in the Pacific Ocean halfway between Australia and Hawaii, Tuvalu is a chain of atolls and reefs dotted across 350 miles of the South Pacific. One study predicted the island, which at its highest points is only 15 feet above sea level, could be submerged in 30 to 50 years. The situation has gotten so dire that New Zealand has allowed 75 Tuvaluans to immigrate to the country every year.

Also located in the South Pacific, halfway between Hawaii and Australia, the atolls and reefs of the Marshall Islands are home to beautiful dive sites. Yet, the capital of Majuro, which rises just three feet above sea level, is regularly flooded by high tides in February and March.

Off the northern coast of Australia, these 274 islands are home to a distinct indigenous culture and beautiful, varied topography. The flooding of many of the islands has become more frequent in recent years, and six of the islands were recently at risk of being submerged. The government averted this crisis by pledging $26.2 million to repair seawalls, yet this will only be a temporary solution as sea levels continue to rise.

Made up of four distinct states with unique cultures and attractions like Chuuk, popular for its underwater wrecks, and Pohnpei, home to ancient ruins, Micronesia has already been flooded in areas. The government says the 607 islands of Micronesia may be uninhabitable before the end of the century.


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