Rising Sea Levels
From Kiribati to Staten Island, New York, rising sea levels are eroding coastlines, swamping infrastructure, and increasing vulnerability to storms. Low island nations such as the Maldives may disappear altogether in coming decades.
Melting glaciers from warming air temperatures is part of the problem. In addition, as the sea absorbs warmth from the atmosphere, ocean water expands. These two related actions are raising sea levels, increasing the reach of storm surges, flooding freshwater wetlands and aquifers with saltwater, and sending those who live along beaches and low-lying coastal areas inland as refugees.
Billions of dollars will be lost in developed countries, when storms like Sandy demolish neighborhoods, flood subways, and drown families. The stakes are even higher in poor countries, where communities have few resources to protect themselves from storm surges or recover from catastrophes.
Warming also harms wildlife and fisheries. If water gets too warm, coral animals may eject the algae that live inside them, providing food and color. Bleached coral soon dies, along with the rich marine life that depends on coral reefs. Mangrove forests, also vital nurseries for fish, are also damaged by warming, rising seas. People who depend on fishing to earn a living depend on healthy reefs and mangroves to shelter fish populations.
But there is a rising tide of hope, too, as communities of faith combine their strength and values to protect vulnerable places and people and to counter the causes of ocean warming. One key step is to learn more about what’s at stake as the oceans warm and sea levels rise. Then join together with others who share your convictions--get involved to reduce carbon pollution, protect coral reefs and mangroves, and save coastal human communities.