When compiling your ‘100 places to visit before I die’ list, did you ever consider that some destinations should be visited more urgently than others?
In the next 85 years we can expect a rise in sea levels by 0.8 – 2 metres – those are conservative estimates. Some scientists forecast a rise of up to 7 metres.
So be sure to visit the following destinations soon; before they are reclaimed by King Neptune and Sebastian the crab for 24-hour faux-Jamaican sing-alongs!
For Miami, which resides on the tip of America’s wang (Florida), things are getting wet. Severe floods are hitting the west coast of Miami from autumn to spring. Built on low-lying land made of porous limestone, Miami is literally soaking up the water like a sponge; from there the grotty soaked up floodwater is filtering into sewers and bubbling up out of drains onto the streets. Gross.
Don’t forget about those sea levels either; a rise of 1ft would contaminate Miami’s water supplies – bad news for water drinkers. Also toilets would no longer flush – bad news for toilet users. In the long term, a 6ft sea rise would send the majority of low-lying south Florida and Miami, along with 2.4 million Floridians, into the sea. Glug.
What’s being done about it?
$400 million is being spent improving Miami Beach’s drains and sewers and $1.5 billion on various projects aimed at holding back the rising waters.
Before it’s too late: Party in the city where the heat is on.All night, on the beach till the break of dawn.
But seriously: Miami Beach is a whole island of white sandy beaches. Down on the glitzy South Beach you can admire the Art Deco architecture and the beautiful people while you play beach volleyball all day and party all night. Miami is a melting pot of different cultures, flashy cars, nightclubs, art galleries, tropical weather and the best Cuban Coffee. Go there before it’s all gone.
It only takes a sidewards glance at Venice to deduce where it is headed: the sea. Famous for its canals and waterways, Venice has always had a close relationship with the drink; however, things have been getting really chummy as of late. In November 2012, 70% of Venice was under water after one of the most severe floods of the ‘Aqua Alta’ (High Water Season) on record hit the great city.
That’s not all. When it’s not flooding, Venice likes to spend its time sinking at a rate of 2mm a year. Throw into the mix sea levels around Venice rising at 2mm a year and you’ve got a disaster of Titanic proportions on your hands; one that’s likely to drag on as long as the disaster movie Titanic.
What’s being done about it?
€5.496 billion has been spent on building a flood barrier around the Venician Lagoon, similar to the Thames Barrier. It is expected to be up and running by 2018-2020.
Before it’s too late: Head out to the Grand Canal and belt out the Cornetto song while your gondolier looks on, glass-eyed in steely contempt.
But seriously: Venice, among other things, is drowning in history, gothic architecture and beautiful churches: it is a living museum. Here you’ll find art from the grand masters and contemporary big hitters. You can buy super creepy Venetian masks which can be worn at their world famous annual Carnevale di Venezia. If that doesn’t float your gondola, Venice is also renowned for fashion, glass making, gelato eating and those horizontal blinds that get bunched up on one side.
Imagine a sponge cake. You wouldn’t dump an anvil on it would you? That’s Bangkok in a nutshell. Like Venice, it is sinking, but it is sinking because the whole city was built on spongey cakey marshland and within the last couple of decades hundreds of massive tower blocks have been built on that marshland.
In some parts of the city Bangkok is sinking 20mm a year, and then we’ve got that sea levels thing. The Thai Government expect it’s got 15 years to take action before Bangkok is permanently paddling in liquid water, 85 years until it’s completely submerged and totally uninhabitable.
What’s being done about it?
Not much, yet. Top two ideas are: relocating the capital (whatever that involves) or building a $14.3 billion sea wall.
Before it’s too late: Buy some bargain used ping pong balls from the market stall next to the seedy theatre in the red light district.
But seriously: Visit the Grand Palace. Explore the floating markets, Chinatown market, the flower market. Try the street food. Ride the Skytrain. Go see the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, the Temple of Dawn, the Emerald Buddha, the Golden Mount. Party till the sun comes up in trendy clubs, gay bars, microbreweries and rooftop lounges. See the puppet shows, cabaret shows and ladyboy shows. Bangkok has something for you, whatever you are into.
80% of the Maldives islands are less than 1 metre above sea level. Not only are they facing a hostile takeover from a familiar salty prince, the islands also have erosion to contend with.
Tourists have been taking bits of dead coral from the Maldives as souvenirs for years. An increase in sea temperature, along with an increase in water acidity is also killing off the coral. Turns out this is the opposite of good as the Maldives’ coral reefs do more then just provide a whole eco system and make pretty trinkets; they act as a barrier, slowing the rate of erosion around the islands and protecting them from flooding. With the coral’s protection diminished, floods, when they hit – and they do quite often now – leave 90% of the islands completely underwater.
What’s being done?
Hulhumalé! – A man made island built with sand dredged from the Maldives’ lagoons is now entering phase 2 of construction and when complete will be able to house 160,000 people: a third of Maldivians. At a (relatively) towering 2 metres above sea level, Hulhumalé is by far the safest island in the Maldives and the perfect place to relocate to for those not blessed with gills.
Before it’s too late: Slip on your best diving suit and attend a live action performance of Finding Nemo.
But seriously: The Maldives with its hot weather and immaculate beaches is the perfect place to do absolutely nothing. When you are not nestled in a hammock or atop a sun lounger, you should probably go scuba diving or snorkeling. The Maldives’ turquoise waters are home to huge manta rays, turtles, dolphins, whales and fish, loads of brightly coloured fishy fish. Once you have seen them you can get back to relaxing. Paradise.
Honourable mention: Hull
UK City of culture 2017, Hull is also in danger.
Please don’t cry. It’ll just make things worse:
It all got rather depressing back there, as things can do when discussing the inevitable demise of mankind’s great civilisations, and Hull. So I wanted to end things on a more hopeful note.
26% of the Netherlands is below sea level. A lesser nation might have built glass walls around its borders and created a giant inverted fish tank for sharks and lobsters to peer in and observe the Dutchfolk going about their pancakes. But instead the Dutch have become world leaders in anti-get-in-the-sea-technology.
The Netherlands’ second biggest city, Rotterdam, is 90% below sea level, currently they are subsidising rooftop gardens to absorb rainwater, building ‘water plazas’, car parks and other public works that can hold water during heavy rain and slowly release it back into drainage systems.
Nationwide, through constant updating and strengthening of sea defenses, planned flooding of ‘indefensible’ land, relocation of residents and sand replenishment where beaches have eroded (12 million metres cubed of sand a year), the Netherlands has kept the rising tides at bay (for now).
If the Netherlands can manage to stay dry for the foreseeable future, maybe we are not all doomed after all!
Rent a bike and roll up in the home of Heineken, Van Gogh, Anne Frank and tulips ASAP – just in case the Netherlands does pop its numerous clogs.
Enigma, raconteur, renaissance man; Tim Cox could be described as none of these things. His main interests include eating full English breakfasts, drinking craft beer and trying to understand modern art. Tim writes about anything and everything in his blog: timcoxwriting.com. Tweet him: @timdcox.