The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has long predicted a global sea level rise of about one metre by AD 2100. However, recent studies suggest that the actual rise could be double that estimate due to accelerated melting in Greenland and Antarctica. This alarming revelation could have profound implications for countries in the Indian Ocean region, including India.
Impact on India:
- Coastal Erosion: India, with its vast coastline, will witness increased coastal erosion, threatening infrastructure, livelihoods, and settlements.
- Displacement: Major cities like Mumbai and Chennai could face severe inundation, leading to the displacement of millions.
- Loss of Biodiversity: The Sundarbans, home to the Royal Bengal Tiger, could be submerged, leading to loss of biodiversity.
- Economic Impact: Coastal regions contribute significantly to India’s GDP. Sea level rise could adversely affect industries, fisheries, and tourism.
Impact on Other Countries in the Indian Ocean Region:
- Existential Threat to Island Nations: Countries like Maldives and Sri Lanka could face existential threats, with large parts of their territories going underwater.
- Loss of Livelihood: Fisheries, a primary source of income for many in the region, will be impacted due to changing marine ecosystems.
- Threat to Food Security: Delta regions, crucial for agriculture, such as the Nile delta, will face salinization, affecting crop yields and food security.
- Mass Migration: Countries like Bangladesh, already vulnerable to flooding, could see mass migrations, leading to potential socio-political challenges.
- Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Rules: India has implemented CRZ rules to regulate activities in the coastal areas, ensuring sustainable development while considering rising sea levels.
- Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM): Projects under ICZM aim to protect and conserve the coastal environment.
- Mangrove Plantations: Countries have initiated mangrove plantation drives, acting as natural barriers against sea surges.
The potential rise in sea levels is a clarion call for nations to adopt proactive measures. Collaborative regional efforts, stringent mitigation strategies, and global cooperation are imperative to address this looming crisis and safeguard our future.