It is yet another heartfelt warning from the Secretary General of the United Nations at the opening of the first Security Council debate on the implications of rising sea levels for international peace and security. An appeal that is the latest in a long series of warnings issued over the last ten years by scientists and experts, all of which have so far gone unheeded.
Relying on the latest data from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Nasa, Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, warned that melting ice due to global warming will cause mass exodus 'on a biblical scale' of coastal communities.
He therefore called for the implementation of legal frameworks to prepare for the management of this phenomenon, especially with regard to displaced persons and refugees, and the development of early warning systems for natural disasters.
"The danger is particularly acute for nearly 900 million people living in low-lying coastal areas, or one in ten people on Earth," he said. Not only will small island states be swallowed up by the sea - as is already happening - but also large cities such as Bangkok, Buenos Aires, Jakarta, Lagos, London, Los Angeles, Mumbai, Maputo, New York and Shanghai will be affected. With 'unimaginable consequences'.
All this will create new areas of conflict while competition for fresh water sources and land is already intensifying, he warned, stating that the climate crisis must be tackled at its root: reduce emissions now to limit warming.
"The global ocean has warmed faster in the last century than at any time in the last 11,000 years," he added. "Our world is hurtling past the 1.5 degree warming limit required for a livable future and, with current policies, is approaching 2.8 degrees: a death sentence for vulnerable countries."
Global warming is melting glaciers and ice caps. According to NASA, Antarctica loses an average of about 150 billion tonnes of ice mass every year, Guterres said. Even faster is the reduction of the Greenland ice sheet, which loses 270 billion tonnes per year.
New IPCC data reveal that sea levels have risen rapidly since 1900, increasing by 15-25 centimetres until 2018. The predictions are catastrophic: if the earth warms by only two degrees compared to the pre-industrial era, then those levels will rise another 43 centimetres by 2100. But if it warms by three or four degrees, sea levels could rise by up to 84 centimetres, says the IPCC.
The consequences are 'unimaginable' for international peace and security, the UN Secretary General added. Those who believe in the future do not allow themselves to be distressed by such predictions but feel animated to do something 'today' no matter how feared.
See, Guterres: esodi «su scala biblica» per l’innalzamento dei mari
Photo. Cities risk a half-metre rise in sea level by 2050 (Map: C40 Network) ©Ray Bilcliff
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