You would be forgiven for not knowing the results of a new study on how climate change is going to raise sea levels to a level higher than earlier expected. After all, who wins the English Premier League is way more important to the media and many of us than inundation by rising sea levels, right?
And so it is business (including property development and land reclamation) as usual…
Not surprisingly, a new report ‘Global and Regional Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the United States‘ last month hardly drew any media or public attention. The report forecasted that sea levels could rise by up to 8 feet by 2100.
The report was published by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, together with the US Environmental Protection Agency, the US Geological Survey (USGS) and Rutgers University – presumably before the Trump administration could do anything about it! (I suggest you keep the report before the climate change-deniers make it ‘disappear’.)
The business magazine Forbes – note, not an environmental NGO – translated the findings into simple language: “… the lowest scenario story line projects that global seas will rise by 1 foot (a big problem) by the end of this century. The worst-scenario finds up to 8 feet of sea level rise over the same period (a very, very big problem).”
And it will continue to rise beyond 2100.
So how would this affect us here in Penang and the rest of Malaysia? Three years ago, Malaysia was listed as one of the 20 countries that would be worst hit by rising sea levels – with 1.2m people (4 per cent of the population) likely to be affected. That estimate would surely have changed by now.
Head over to Climate Central and play around with interactive map there. Vary the rise in the sea level and carefully examine how the rising sea level will affect the coastline in Penang and the rest of Malaysia. You judge for yourself.
In the 1970s, long before the 2004 tsunami or when anyone had heard about rising sea levels, an old family friend of my parents was thinking of buying a house near the coast on the mainland. But his wife was against the idea – she had a premonition or phobia about living too near the sea, and they then bought a house further inland. Events have since showed us that her fear was not without basis.
So think again before you rush to book your property with a glorious sea view. You – or your grandchildren – might get a closer view of the sea than you bargained for!