Climate Change, Sea Level Rise: “Devastating Consequences” and a “Practically Ungovernable” Earth

MANILA, Philippines

A report published July 14th by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in collaboration with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research warns of potentially devastating consequences for the Asia Pacific region of unabated climate change.

The paper, titled “A Region at Risk: The Human Dimensions of Climate Change in Asia and the Pacific” predicts severe impact on future growth, reversal of current development gains, and degradation of quality of life.

Under a “business-as-usual scenario”, a 6-degree Celsius temperature increase is projected over the Asian landmass by the end of the century, the report said.

According to the authors, 19 of the world’s 25 cities most exposed to a 1-meter sea-level rise are located in the Asia and Pacifc region, with seven of these in the Philippines. More intense typhoons and tropical cyclones were expected to hit Asia and the Pacific with rising global mean temperatures causing increased risk of flooding in coastal and low-lying regions.

Global flood losses are expected to increase to $52 billion per year by 2050 from $6 billion in 2005, the report says. Climate change will also make food production in the region more difficult and production costs higher with rice yields declining by up to 50 percent by 2100 if no adaptation measures are taken. Food shortages could increase the number of malnourished children in South Asia by 7 million by 2050.

The report also highlights the importance of implementing the commitments laid out in the “Paris Agreement” which was reached at 2015’s COP21 climate conference in France, including public and private investments focused on the rapid “decarbonization” of the Asian economy as well as the implementation of adaptation measures to protect the region’s most vulnerable populations.

Conventions of Parties (COPs) are convened annually under the auspices of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

2017’s COP23 will be hosted in Bonn, Germany later this year, under the national presidency of Fiji, an Asia-Pacific island nation particularly fragile and vulnerable to monsoons, typhoons, floods and droughts associated with climate change.

Warning from Former NASA Climate Chief

Also last week, NASA’s former head of climate research Professor James Hansen warned that the earth could become “practically ungovernable” because of rising sea levels associated with climate change.

In a July 12th interview with New York Magazine Hansen said “I don’t think we’re going to get four or five degrees this century, because we get a cooling effect from the melting ice. But the biggest effect will be that melting ice…in my opinion that’s the big thing – sea-level rise – because we have such a large fraction of people on coastlines, more than half of the large cities in the world are on coastlines”.

“The economic implications of (sea level rise), and the migrations and the social effects of migrations … the planet could become practically ungovernable”.