Sinking nations. When we hear the term Sinking Nations what comes to our mind first? All of us could easily answer this question: It is just nations that are going underwater?
Yes, in the near future due to the effects of climate change it is said that nations mostly islands might start going underwater. Something like what happened to Atlantis there is no scientific explanation to what actually happened to Atlantis but myths which people consider to be true cite that “On one catastrophic night the utopian kingdom of Atlantis was struck with a terrifying earthquake by the gods. After that incident, this great kingdom was never to be seen again.” But we are not here to talk about Atlantis that was just a myth but what if I tell you can witness this in your lifetime there is one nation and one capital of a nation which could be underwater by the end of 2100. That these nations are going to sink with proper scientific evidence tracking them and we can witness it in places like Tuvalu, the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, Kiribati, Maldives, The Marshall Islands, Seychelles, Tokelau, and finally the Solomon Islands. But the common thing amongst all of them is that they are and are located in the Pacific and the Indian oceans.
For the sake of better understanding and how climate change affected these countries we will be taking Jakarta and Tuvalu as examples so that we get a glimpse of what will happen these locations in the near future and we will try and answer these few questions:
1. Reasons why they are sinking?
2. What is the world doing to help them?
3. What will be the future of these Sinking nations?
● Why are they sinking ?
Currently Jakarta is the fastest sinking country in the world but what if I were to tell you that the sinking of this nation's capital had begun ever since the Dutch had colonised this region yes this phenomenon had begun since 1595 and they were one of the main contributors to the sinking of Jakarta.
Let's take a look:
The mosque on the north coast of the Indonesian capital Jakarta known as Waladuna Mosque, isn't the normal mosque in your neighbourhood. Its roof is shattered and the walls are covered with moss and seawater flows through every corner of it the last time people prayed was in 2001. This just proves one thing Jakarta is sinking but the sinking of the fast spreading capital had begun since the early 1900s and the Dutch have played a huge role in it. You see in the year 1600 the capital of Jakarta then known as Jayakarta served as a base for the Dutch empire. But later it was named as Batavia. The Dutch architectured Batavia in such a way that it took a look of the Dutch capital Amsterdam with narrow houses and canals going through the entire city. This design bought aD feeling into the south-east Asian capital but it served a much more darker and important purpose according to Dr: Euis Pupita Dewi a researcher and lecturer.
The dutch used the method of divide and rule. In that period the modern day Indonesian capital was occupied by the Arabs, Chinese, Indians and the Indonesians there was a canal named Groot which went through the city dividing it as eastern and western parts the western part was further divided into 2 parts but there weren't much bridges around and the people couldn't move easily from place to place. This was a simple but strategic plan that the Dutch had implemented. This prevented the people in the nation to unite and fight against them. The people used the water flowing in the canals for various household and personal purposes but the Dutch were not taking good care of the canals and because of this the canals turned stagnant though they noticed this they didn't take any action. They left it as is and the wealthier Dutch moved to the south of Batavia and they started to supply clean drinkable water in those areas.
But this was limited to certain areas where the elite Dutch resided, with the areas around them known as Kampongs. Those living in the Kampongs had to rely on the poisonous water of the canals and millions would die because of this. Ultimately these people had to rely on street vendors who pumped water but they took money for it. It took decades for proper clean water supplied via pipes to come to these areas and when they came they weren't much of a use either so people started digging wells so that they could take the water from the aquifers. This segregated section of the population now actually came to access the supplies and realised how they were being denied access to drinking water and started protesting. In the year 1945 they gained independence and the Dutch declared Indonesia’s freedom and left. The problem of water availability was left to the Government of Indonesia but even after the Dutch left people still didn't have sanitised water and they started to rely greatly on the aquifers more as the population of Jakarta had increased. The reliance on the water being pumped from the aquifers increased the industrialization in the region. The aquifers needed to be refilled time to time so when it rained they water travelled between the soil surface and made its way down. But now when the whole place was filled with concrete the story was different as the water was unable to past through the concrete. Industrialization might have benefited the inner coast of Jakarta but places like Muara Baru suffered a lot as the people here are fishermen, so they need to leave near the coast to make a living. But as the land sank they are the ones affected the most as they have to rebuild their houses every year to certain height. Research says that every year the water rises to a limit of 25 cm and as they don't have anywhere to they have to survive and stay near the ocean.
The sinking of the country Tuvalu has begun since 2011 this country unlike Jakarta does not have a long history for why it’s sinking we can easily answer this question but the consequences that the people of this nation face are extremely brutal. The people over there use the phrase “Tuvalu is sinking” to let the world know that they are going down and that too at a fast pace. They have lost two of their 9 islands to the melting of glaciers and global warming.
All of us do know of the term global warming but action is slow and lacking. Glaciers melting and sea levels rising are one of the examples of the term but there are far more things to understand about this. One of examples of this is Tuvalu in a picture take in 2016 there is a child holding a banner which says:
“To the rest of the world please could you prepare a place for my country to stay.”
The maximum amount of elevation Tuvalu has from the sea is 4.6 m and the average is 2m and this makes the island nation the most vulnerable to the global warming effect.
● What is the world doing to help them?
Currently there isn't any disclosable information from the world countries or from the UN. However, the government of Jakarta is trying its level best. They have partnered with a Dutch architecture firm and they plan to create a wall of around 120 kilometers near the coast line so that they can protect the sinking capital but currently they have only managed to complete 10 kilometers. They have also planned to create an economical hub for the city which is deemed not sink but it is also estimated it would be completed around the year 2030. By the year the country would have lost the majority of its coastline and the government would have lost majority of the hope and plans to move the capital.
Coming back to the nation of Tuvalu the United Nations is providing great help there and this has come into the notice of the other nations as two of their islands have already sank.
Currently the UN is doing their best to help the island of Tuvalu. The fact that it is listed in the (LDC) the least developed countries list also helps it get economic support from various organizations during disasters. Last January the World Bank supported them with an emergency fund of US $6.2 million so that they can survive the Tropical cyclone Tico.
The UN chief Secretary-General Antonio Gueterras had visited and had assured their full support as they are in the front lines of facing climate change. He requested countries to take care of their industrialist and transportation methods as they take care of their cities welfare and its development. Several countries have also come into Tuvalu’s Aid such as Australia, Nepal, USA.
● What is the future of these countries?
It is predicted that Jakarta would sink by the year 2050 and the nation of Tuvalu will completely submerged by the year 2100. There is no practical solution for these countries and their governments are seeking help from the UN.
Modern industrialization has compromised our environment and at this pace we will have bigger problems to worry about.
- Mizhab.p.shaji, The New Era