The place where island communities are most threatened by rising sea levels, caused by global warming, is in the Pacific, one of the few places in the world where entire countries consist of small low-level islands. Examples of those countries include Fiji, Tuvalu, Micronesia, the Cook Islands and Kiribati, the latter consistently ranked as one of the poorest countries on Earth and consequently the least equipped to deal with these issues. The Maldives, a scattering of islands off the coast of India, are also threatened, and in fact their president in October 2009 staged a unique event to highlight the dangers of global warming for island communities: he held a cabinet meeting on the bottom of a lagoon in full scuba gear and invited the world press to film it. (They did). For countries such as these, global warming is not an abstract issue. It’s a real threat, and it’s going to literally wipe them off the map. Kiribati is already looking for places to relocate its population, and other nations are doing the same thing, appealing to the larger, richer first-world countries who create most of the global warming for help. While right now the focus is on these low-lying island countries, rising sea levels will eventually affect coastal communities all over the world. Most of the Netherlands, for example, is already below sea level. What are they going to do when sea level rises several more feet? Build more dikes, probably; but you can see how inexorable this problem is and the vast scale of resources that will be needed to combat it.
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