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WATER WORLD
Marshall Islands says climate change behind floods
by Staff Writers
Majuro (AFP) Marshall Islands (AFP) March 05, 2014


Future warming imperils Statue of Liberty: study
Paris (AFP) March 05, 2014 - The sightseer of 4014 may have to pay a virtual visit to the Tower of London or Statue of Liberty, said a climate study Wednesday that warned of dramatic ocean encroachment on heritage sites.

While modern civilisation is fascinated by the pyramids of Egypt, Rome's Colosseum and the Parthenon in Greece, much of this inheritance as well as our own cultural legacy may be lost to sea-levels rising as much as 1.8 metres (six feet) due to global warming, researchers said.

Out of more than 700 listed UNESCO World Heritage sites, nearly 140 risk being flooded in 2,000 years' time, they projected in a study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

These also include the Sydney Opera House, Venice in Italy, Japan's Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Robben Island in South Africa where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years.

The calculation is based on sea-level rises associated with temperatures three degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than pre-Industrial Revolution levels. The UN-targeted maximum rise is 2 C.

"Our analysis shows how serious the long-term impacts for our cultural heritage will be if climate change is not mitigated," study co-author Anders Levermann from the Potsdam Institue for Climate Impact Research (PIK) said in a statement.

The average global temperature has already increased by 0.8 C on pre-industrial levels.

According to the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), it could rise by an additional 2.6 to 4.8 C by the end of this century, on a scenario for high emissions of greenhouse gases.

Levermann and his team set out to study the impact on cultural heritage of climate change -- a phenomenon whose effects are usually measured for nature, the economy and agriculture.

Officials in the Marshall Islands blamed climate change Wednesday for severe flooding in the Pacific nation's capital Majuro which has left 1,000 people homeless.

The Marshalls declared a state of emergency in the wake of the flooding, which peaked Monday when surges caused by so-called "king tides" inundated areas of the low-lying capital.

Senator Tony de Brum, the Minister Assisting the President, said king tides were a regular phenomenon, but not at the damaging levels seen this week.

"This is far, far from being a normal situation," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

"I put that down to climate change... these things are far more intense than before and leave more destruction behind than they used to."

Alson Kelen, a resident of a small island located about a mile from the downtown area of Majuro, said this week that the king tide was the highest he had ever experienced.

The UN Office for the Cooordination of Humanitarian Affairs said there had been no reports of fatalities or serious injuries due to the flooding.

Climate change is a major concern for Pacific island states such as the Marshals, Kiribati and Tuvalu, where many atolls are barely a metre (three feet) above sea level and risk being engulfed by rising waters.

The Pacific Islands Forum regional bloc signed a declaration calling for renewed global efforts to contain global warming when they met in Majuro last September.

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