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Headlines Islands battle rising seas for survival


From appaled to applauding, controversy.
Many areas across the world are sinking into the ocean. Whole islands are dissapearing. It's Atlantis all over again.

SYDNEY (Reuters) - The Carteret Islands are almost invisible on a map of the South Pacific, but the horseshoe scattering of atolls is on the front-line of climate change, as rising sea levels and storm surges eat away at their existence.

For 20 years, the 2,000 islanders have fought a losing battle against the ocean, building sea walls and trying to plant mangroves. Each year, the waves surge in, destroying vegetable gardens, washing away homes and poisoning freshwater supplies.

Papua New Guinea's Carteret islanders are destined to become some of the world's first climate change refugees. Their islands are becoming uninhabitable, and may disappear below the waves.

A decision has been made to move the islanders to the larger nearby Bougainville island, four hours' boat ride to the southwest. Ten families at a time will be moved, over one to two years, once funds are allocated for the resettlement program.

"It's a pretty hard life out there on the islands. Some of the homes have been washed away," Joe Kaipu, the senior district coordinator of Bougainville, told Reuters by telephone.

"The only action now is to resettle them," he said.

United Nations panel of more than 2,000 scientists has predicted that average sea levels are likely to rise between 9 and 88 cm (3.5 to 35 inches) by 2100, mainly because of a build-up of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels, such as oil and coal.

Sea levels are expected to rise because of a melting of ice caps and because water expands when it warms. If the entire Greenland ice sheet melted in coming centuries, for instance, sea levels would rise by seven meters.

Many scientists say a 50 cm rise in sea levels could cause a 50 meter retreat of the coastline in low-lying areas.

At the higher end of the forecast, the sea would overflow the heavily populated coasts of countries such as Bangladesh, and cause low-lying island states like the Indian Ocean's Maldives and South Pacific's Kiribati and Tuvalu to disappear.

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It's only going to get worse. :(
That is really friggin' scary.

There is a city in the lower mainland of BC called Richmond. It is several meters below sea level. I kid you not when I say that part of many institutions' earthquake drills involve life boats on the roofs of their buildings. It is a very real concern, especially considering the 'big one' is supposed to be coming at some point.