Global sea levels are rising and the world’s land ice is disappearing. Sea levels have risen 6 to 8 inches in the past 100 years, and Antarctica has been losing more than 100 cubic kilometers of ice per year since 2002, according to NASA satellite data.
By the year 2100, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that sea levels will rise as much as 20 inches.
While rising sea levels ultimately influence the entire planet, they pose the greatest threat to the islands currently residing at sea level.
Here are some of the islands — many of them small nations — likely to face this crisis first.
Seychelles is a member of the African Union, the Southern African Development Community, the Commonwealth of Nations, and the United Nations.
After proclamation of independence from the United Kingdom in 1976, Seychelles has developed from a largely agricultural society to a market-based diversified economy, with agriculture being supplanted by rapidly rising service and public sectors as well as tourism.
Since 1976, nominal GDP output has increased nearly sevenfold and the purchasing power parity nearly sixteenfold. In recent years, the government has encouraged foreign investment in order to upgrade these sectors.
Today, Seychelles boasts the highest nominal per capita GDP in Africa, excluding the French regions. It is one of only a handful of countries in Africa with a high Human Development Index.
Despite the country’s newfound economic prosperity, poverty remains widespread due to a high level of income inequality, one of the highest in the world, and unequal wealth distribution.
An archipelago and country comprised of 115 islands, Seychelles is home to a little over 94,000 people in the Indian Ocean.
Most of the islands are uninhabited, but they do function as nature reserves.
The islands total around 2 and half times the size of Washington, D.C., but around 16 percent of this land is less than 16 feet above sea level.
When you factor in that 80 percent of the country’s population and economic activity is on coastal areas, even a 3-foot increase in sea level could be dire for the islands and result in a 70 percent loss of land mass.
Like many island nations, Seychelles has relied on mangrove forests and coral reefs to fight back against climate change.
However, ocean acidification has worn away coral reefs in the area, and the country lacks the economic resources to invest in the infrastructure necessary to give a way to properly fight back against the rising sea levels.