The Sinking Countries

By Bo-Ram Kim, Chan Lee Bo-Ram Kim, Chan Leel승인2009.09.07l292호 0면

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Do you remember last summer when it was raining awfully? The meteorological administration named it local rain. It is a kind of squall, strong showers, like in the tropics. In the world meteorological organization, they keep attempt to understand the reason why this rain is caused by climatic change and environmental pollution. It is one of the major results of global warming. Currently, the Earth's temperature continues to rise slightly every year. As a result of this, a big change seems to come in the ecosystem like the melting of glaciers, the disappearance of the gap between cold and warm currents, occurrence of abnormal climate, etc. It is like a domino. We can find the impacts of global warming's progress. The glaciers have been melted by the increase of the Earth's temperature. For this reason, the sea level goes up. It floods low-lying littoral areas and the earth may eventually be flooded, too. It is no different than the sinking of cities from the movie ‘Sinking of Japan.’ The sinking of the earth in the movie is just faster than in reality. If we see this movie as just a movie, it is our mistake. Actually it is happening in some countries.

   

Tuvalu at king tide

Tuvalu, the 4th smallest country in the world, is just three times bigger than Yeouido of Korea and about 10,000 people are living there. The sea level of Tuvalu is rising 5.3mm per year and it is three times higher than average of the Earth. The rise of sea level is causing a dangerous situation to Tuvalu where the altitude is just 1m. In fact, the sea  evel of around Tuvalu has risen about 7.5cm 0ver the last 15 years. It may be thought it is a small change, but the effect is not small at all. The sea level of Tuvalu rises 2.6m at high water and 3.26m at king tide. But international scientists predicted that the sea level will rise as much as 3.85m in the 21st century. Tuvalu's highest place is 4.58m and if the sea water rises more than 4m, most of the land of Tuvalu will sink in the sea. Unfortunately, this small country will sink in the water forever after 50 years. Actually, the people of Tuvalu already gave up their country in 2001. Because of that reason, some people in Tuvalu are leaving their homeland for themselves and their children. They believe that leaving Tuvalu and getting a better education in a new place will be better than remaining in Tuvalu. Now in New Zealand, there are 2,500 people from Tuvalu which are quarter of Tuvalu's population and most of them are living in Aukland. However, they are trying not to forget their homeland, language and culture even though they have hardships.

   

Satellite picture of Kiribati

Tuvalu is not only the country which is struggling with the rising sea level caused by global warming. Kiribati is the country where the sun sets first in the world. 10 years ago, more than 20 families lived on Tebuatarawa island of Kiribati. But, because of overflowing seawater, trees died and sand was swept away and it became a waste land. Also in Tarawa, the capital of Kiribati, the coconut tree which is being used for construction and food is dying because of salty water caused by overflowing seawater. As one of the preventive measures, the inhabitants  have planted mangrove trees which can survive in the salty water. But, can this country remain in existance before the trees grow up? This country is gardually sinking into the sea, also this country has a lack of drinking water. Because the land and underground water are polluted with seawater, the people are depending on rainwater to use for living, including drinking. They are giving their island which is their life to the sea. Because of it, the president of Kiribati demands repayment from the advanced countries and he is endeavoring to protect the people.

After 50 years, Tuvalu will be gone from the map forever. Kiribati will disappear before this century ends, too. The future of these countries can not be predicted by figures. It will happen someday; it is reality. What they have made and kept like history, culture, language and countless things of them will be sealed in the sea. Who is responsible for these small peaceful countries’ submergence? The inhabitants walked in peace and were satisfied with their lives. The people who took their happiness away from them are in the advanced countries including our country. We all have ignored the environment for economic growth since the industrial revolution. But we cannot do that anymore.

The damages of global warming cannot be seen right now. Once the Earth's temperature rises, it is too difficult to restore. For this reason, it is so dangerous. Unfortunately, there is no epochal counter plan to prevent it. It means there is no short-term, efficient counter plan. So it needs a great number of people's help to reduce that time. Low carbon policies of the government or enterprises need a long time and a lot of money. However, we can start doing things that matter in our living. Everybody knows how to do the basics like taking public transportation, planting trees, recycling and otherwise. All we have to do is just keep doing it. We have more days to live than the days we have lived so far on the Earth. For this reason, we have to look out for our environment that has been ignored, and work hard to coexist with people, the environment and the economy.


Bo-Ram Kim, Chan Lee  dkherald@gmail.com
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