With a busy week behind you and the weekend within reach, there’s no shame in taking things a bit easy on Friday afternoon. With this in mind, every Friday TriplePundit will give you a fun, easy read on a topic you care about. So, take a break from those endless email threads, and spend five minutes catching up on the latest trends in sustainability and business.
While some still view climate change as some distant or unidentifiable threat (and others simply argue its effects "won't be so bad"), the impacts of rising tides and surging temperatures are already changing lives around the world. From South Florida to the Pacific Islands, this list represents thousands of lives that are forever altered by the warming climate -- and a threat to millions more unless something changes quickly.
As noted by the Guardian, Miami's once glamorous beachfront thoroughfare has been reduced to a one-lane passage in many places, with blockades and road work closing in on all sides to stop the rising tide. Every year, with the coming of fall and spring tides, ocean surges break up over the beach and pour through storm drains -- destroying cars and damaging homes and businesses.
"This never used to happen," laundromat owner Eliseo Toussaint told the New York Times, as he watched saltwater fill the streets and block his front door. "I've owned this place eight years and now it's all the time."
According to the report: "The impacts of climate change on the city are likely to be quite severe, including major flooding due to Bangkok’s low elevation, increased land subsidence which is already occurring, problems of water supply provision and contamination, air pollution and oppressive heat with associated health consequences, increases in infectious diseases and decrease in biomass production."
Experts expect about 250 million people worldwide to move by 2050 as a result of climate change. Of those, 20 million to 30 million climate change refugees are expected to come from Bangladesh, likely the largest number from one place, the Toronto Star reports.
Already, cyclones, tropical storms and other natural disasters, along with rising sea levels, have forced thousands from their homes in coastal Indonesia and Bangladesh into the slums of Dhaka. After taking residence in the overcrowded city, many find a home in shantytowns, where sanitation is minimal to nonexistent and monsoon season often brings malaria and cholera outbreaks.
In the village of Newtok, for example, floods and erosion are eating away the land at alarming rates. Shorter, warmer winters, earlier springs and rising waters threaten to transform the area into an ever-shrinking island, which could completely disappear, possibly within the next five years.
Some coastal Alaskan villages are exploring ways to prevent erosion and flood damage, but in areas like Newtok, which is situated in a low-lying wetlands unable to support infrastructure projects, residents have no choice but to move.
Unfortunately, Kiribati is not alone. The Caterat Islanders of Papua New Guinea, for example, were the world’s first community to be entirely displaced by climate change. The island is predicted to be completely underwater by 2015.
Based in Philadelphia, Mary Mazzoni is a senior editor at TriplePundit. She is also a freelance journalist who frequently writes about sustainability, corporate social responsibility and clean tech. Her work has appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News, the Huffington Post, Sustainable Brands, Earth911 and the Daily Meal. You can follow her on Twitter @mary_mazzoni.
Mary Mazzoni, Senior Editor, has written for TriplePundit since 2013. She is also Managing Editor of CR Magazine and the Editor of 3p’s Sponsored Series. Mazzoni’s recent work can be found in Conscious Company, AlterNet and VICE’s Motherboard. She is based in Philadelphia.