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.
The people of Kiribati may want to rethink their plans to relocate to Fiji, as this 7,056-square-mile island nation in the South Pacific is pondering its own solutions to the challenges of climate change. While its larger islands include mountains that reach high as 4,000 feet above sea level, Fiji is still concerned about the effects of climate change. Indeed, some families are already moving further inland to escape rising sea levels.
Fiji is doing what it can to combat rising sea levels. Villagers are planting mangrove trees, but it may not be enough. According to the country and the World Bank, Fiji will have to spend $4.5 billion over the next decade to combat climate change, including transportation systems, education, house and health services.
As the World Health Organization reports, climate change is expected to influence extremes of too little and too much water in the form of severe storms and droughts. Further, such extreme weather is expected to make the island’s population of 909,000 more sensitive to climate-sensitive diseases, such as water-borne illnesses.