Climate migrations: make it before the waves wash over the house | Life in Germany. Society, lifestyle, interesting facts | DW

Thanks to the skillful construction of flood defenses, the inhabitants of the Netherlands have been tearing up space for themselves at sea for decades, meter by meter. In turn, on the coast of Dubai, “The Palm”, an artificial island with luxury hotels and elite villas, arose. So is it enough to plan the construction site well and can a man handle the space by the sea?

Not necessarily, because the sea level is constantly rising. Extreme weather events are increasingly common on coasts around the world and regularly lead to flooding. And with more and more coastal communities, it’s all about rescuing their belongings from the water.

Billions of people will be affected by rising sea levels in the coming decades

Adapting to climate change can sometimes mean withdrawing and “giving” a certain piece of land to nature. This phenomenon is called climate displacement or migration and represents the pre-planned withdrawal of people from areas that are becoming uninhabitable due to ongoing climate change.

The problem can also affect large cities. In Sydney, Australian metropolis, on July 3 this year. heavy rains disrupted the dams, flooding rivers and forcing more than 30,000 people to travel. residents leave their homes. The northern and southern parts of the city were flooded with 1.5 meters of rain within 24 hours. According to the Australian Meteorological Service, this is the same amount of rain as normal rain all year round in New South Wales.

After masses of water flooded the city in April, the state governor admitted that such situations “will become more common” and that it is necessary to “respond to the changing nature”.

How does climate resettlement work?

The planned resettlement consists of people leaving the threatened areas permanently. This can be done preventively or immediately after a calamity. This happened, for example, in New Orleans. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated much of the city near the mouth of the Mississippi.

“Climate change affects people all over the world. And everyone is looking for ways to deal with it in one way or another,” natural disaster researcher AR Siders wrote in a June 2021 study. The scientist conducts research at the University of Delaware in the US. “If people were to leave known danger zones, that would be an effective protection. However, this possibility is often not taken into account.”

Some New Orleans neighborhoods have been completely abandoned after the devastating flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina

Some New Orleans neighborhoods have been abandoned after devastating floods

Reconstruction programs for poorer families have started in New Orleans. Their new homes are now slightly higher, a safe distance from the flood plains. Similar programs operate throughout the United States. State-owned FEMA manages the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, under which more than 43,000 were purchased in 2017 alone. houses in areas at risk of flooding – in the United States itself and in extraterritorial areas of the country.

However, such a big step is not easy. First, it requires a lot of bureaucracy. There is always a risk that the displacement of a community with an already formed structure will deepen social inequalities.

Lagos, Nigeria's largest city, is only a few meters above sea level and vulnerable to the effects of rising water levels

Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city, is located just a few meters above sea level

“The orderly resettlement of an area is not a path that can be easily reversed,” noted Miyuki Hino in a 2017 report for Carbon Brief, a UK website specializing in climate science, climate and energy policy. University, “resettlement poses social and psychological problems that are difficult for those affected, especially if the old home is cultural heritage or was a long-term family home.”

Escape Climate Change

Kiribati is an island republic in the Pacific Ocean. It is just above sea level. Kiribati is therefore one of those countries in the world that is one of the first to feel the effects of rising water levels immediately. Some of the islands that make up the republic are no longer habitable.

The inhabitants of the Kiribati Islands are used to constant flooding

The inhabitants of the Kiribati Islands are used to constant flooding

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that sea levels will rise by 10 to 25 centimeters by 2050. Experts expect this trend to continue through the end of the century. In such a scenario, the Kiribati Islands will absorb the waters of the Pacific Ocean.

In 2014, the government of the republic bought land in Fiji in order to resettle its citizens there. Recently, however, new plans have been announced in collaboration with China to use these areas for agriculture, to feed the population. Kiribati is also developing training programs with Australia and New Zealand. They are designed to give the citizens of a small island country the skills needed to find a job if they are forced to emigrate.

Renovation of former residential areas

The government of the US state of New Jersey is also buying up land to combat the dangers of climate change. These are private homes in areas with a high risk of storms and floods due to climate change. This area is currently being transformed into recreational and nature reserves. In this way, it will serve as “natural protection against future storms and floods,” explains the Ministry of the Environment.

Hurricane Ida flooded numerous cities along the US East Coast in 2021, including Manville, NJ

Hurricane Ida will flood countless cities along the US East Coast in 2021

Blue Acre’s resettlement program was launched in 1995. It was ramped up further after the devastating Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Since then, more than 700 homes have been demolished in the floodplains of the Delaware, Passaic, and Raritan Rivers and their tributaries.

“New Jersey will have more flooding in the future. It makes sense, then, that we expand our Blue Acres program,” New Jersey environmental specialist Shawn M. LaTourette told NJ Spotlight News last October. “Do you want to sell and how much will it all cost?”.

Planned resettlement is a major and in some places impractical challenge, but the sea is unstoppable,” said Rhode Island Nature Conservation Officer

The planned resettlements are a big challenge, but the sea is unstoppable

However, despite the ever-increasing threats, it is by no means that people are leaving their homes because of the threat of rising water levels. It is true that for most coastal residents it is frightening to know that the water is increasing, says Hans-Ulrich Roesner, head of the WWF office at the Wadden Sea, in an interview with DW. But “it can only be done if people are convinced.”

Returning floodplains to rivers

In 2006 the British Environmental Protection Agency also took a radical step. There have been repeated floods at the mouth of the River Humber in eastern England, west of Hull, at the confluence of the two rivers. That is why it was decided to convert 440 hectares of arable land into floodplains. To this end, part of the dykes that originally served as flood defenses have been removed.

The newly created wetland now protects residents at the mouth of the River Humber from flooding

The newly created wetland protects residents at the mouth of the River Humber from flooding

This is how the Alkborough Flats, one of the largest floodplains in Europe at the time, was created. This has reduced the flood risk of more than 600 homes. And further upstream, fewer flood control measures have been needed since then. Many birds, fish, insects and plants have now settled in the newly created wetland. This radical move is no exception. Similar floodplains arise in the Netherlands, India and Thailand, among others.

Rising sea level forces Jakarta to move

Indonesia is currently facing one of the largest planned resettlement actions in the world. Jakarta, the capital of the country, is sinking another 20 centimeters every year, partly because too much groundwater is being extracted. Together with the rise in the water level, the sea absorbs more and more parts of the metropolis with ten million inhabitants.

The Indonesian government plans to move the capital to a distance of two thousand. kilometers to the island of Borneo. There is little time left. Experts estimate that by 2050, most of North Jakarta will be inundated by the sea. Even if by then state authorities will move to the new capital, it remains an open question where millions of urban slum dwellers will be relocated.

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