Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The US Capital under threat from Sea Level Rise

The Bush Administration recently commissioned a report to study the effects of climate change on Washington DC. The study which anticipates a nearly 30 centimetre rise in sea level by 2050 within the Washington areas indicates that the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, the U.S. Capitol and Lincoln Memorial stand to be affected. In addition over 3330 km2 in Maryland ( an area the size of the island of Makira in the Solomon islands) is at risk from frequent inundation and may cause concern for future development in the area.

According to Mr Ian Ian Grossman, a spokesman for the US Federal Highway Administration, the study does not represent a policy change by the Bush administration, but is merely an attempt to plan ahead.

imageAbraham Lincoln in his visionary statement made back on July 4, 1861 reads "On the side of the Union, it is a struggle for maintaining in the world, that form and substance of government, whose leading object is, to elevate the condition of men--to lift artificial weights from all shoulders--to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all--to afford all, an unfettered start, and a fair chance, in the race of life."

Although he was speaking in a different context and on different issues, such as the American constitution and slavery, his wisdom still holds true today.

The small islands are in a race of life, a constitutional right and above all preserved under the UN Charter of Human Rights. We need concrete policies to reverse climate change. We need serious leadership to advert a global catastrophe. Let the Lincoln Memorial teach us about modern history on human rights and how the value of humankind should supercede all of our material instincts and political savvy. Climate change and sea level rise is expected to cause millions of people to leave their homes and become the first climate refugees. Whilst it is important to plan ahead, it is even more important to ensure that small island states like the Solomon islands and its unique people do not disappear altogether.

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