300 million people could be submerged as sea levels rise

Ocean. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)
Ocean. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

New climate research shows 300 million people living along the world's coasts could be hit by devastating flooding by 2050, about three times more than previously estimated.

The figure could double to 630 million people affected by 2100 if little is done to rein in greenhouse gas emissions that continue to rise around the planet.

The study by the US-based Climate Central organisation, published on Tuesday by the journal Nature Communications, said major coastal cities such as India's Mumbai, China's Shanghai, and Thailand's Bangkok could be submerged over the next 30 years.

An estimated 237 million people threatened by rising sea waters live in Asia alone, the research said.

"These assessments show the potential of climate change to reshape cities, economies, coastlines, and entire global regions within our lifetimes," said Scott Kulp, lead author of the study.

Mumbai, one of the largest cities in the world, risks becoming completely inundated. Shanghai, with a population of 24 million, faces a similar fate three decades from now.

The scale of human movement will be unrivaled in history, Dina Ionesco of the International Organization for Migration told The New York Times.

"We've been trying to ring the alarm bells, we know that it's coming," she said.

Egypt's Alexandria and Basra, the second-largest city in Iraq, will be mostly underwater by 2050, the study said.

Southern Vietnam - with more than 20 million people - may become entirely flooded. 

The study suggested nations must begin preparing now for millions of citizens to relocate internally.

"As shocking as these findings might be, there is a silver lining," said Climate Central's director of communications Peter Girard.

"They give us the knowledge we need to take action in time to protect millions, and to avoid the economic and political upheaval that a climate disaster on this scale could bring."

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
When a Covid-19 vaccine for under 16's becomes available, will you be taking your children to get it?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, immediately!
38% - 4413 votes
I'll wait to see how others respond
26% - 2971 votes
No, I don't think they need it
36% - 4205 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
15.49
(+0.11)
ZAR/GBP
21.46
(-0.05)
ZAR/EUR
18.38
(+0.05)
ZAR/AUD
11.87
(+0.11)
ZAR/JPY
0.14
(+0.30)
Gold
1688.38
(+0.24)
Silver
25.32
(+0.63)
Platinum
1148.50
(+1.14)
Brent Crude
68.09
(-1.61)
Palladium
2314.00
(+0.54)
All Share
68426.17
(+0.23)
Top 40
62910.60
(+0.19)
Financial 15
12747.28
(-0.10)
Industrial 25
87156.37
(-0.52)
Resource 10
71780.93
(+1.38)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo