The Alexandria Corniche is vulnerable to rising water
In 2050, “the sea will rise by a meter,” experts at the IPCC warn. It could then devour cities that represent humanity’s heritage.
The rising water is “irreversible”. This is the alarming finding of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which in August 2021 unveiled the key elements of its most important publication since 2014. The scenarios examine rising temperatures with limited and high or very high emissions in the short or medium term. And of course, the higher the levels, the more devastating the effects. The 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), which opens on November 6 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, provides an opportunity to address issues related to climate change and find solutions to prevent humanity’s treasures from disappearing .
VIDEO – Heatwaves: UN and IFRC say regions of the world will soon be ‘uninhabitable’
The City of Alexandria in Borrowed Time
Alexandria, land of history and traces of the past, is threatened today. Every year the Egyptian city sinks by 3 millimeters. In the Nile delta, the sea has already advanced three kilometers inland since the 1960s, and the Rosette lighthouse, built at the end of the 19th century, was swallowed up by the water masses. It is today the citadel of Qaitbay, built in the 15th century on the site of the lighthouse of Alexandria, which disappeared in antiquity and is at the forefront.
Street drainage, reed belts, concrete blocks… The city is trying to protect itself so as not to be swallowed up. But in the best-case scenario, if the Mediterranean rises just 50 centimeters, “30% of Alexandria will be flooded, 1.5 million or more people will be displaced, 195,000 jobs will be destroyed, and land and construction losses will reach $30 trillion,” the report reports France.
For the head of the Egyptian coast protection authority, Ahmed Abdelqader, “the West has a moral responsibility: it must help to counteract the negative effects of climate change, which is the result of its civilizational decisions”.
Venice regularly under the waves
An architectural masterpiece listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Venice is also threatened by rising water levels. More than 90% of the houses of the Doge’s City are hit by acqua alta, those tidal waves that reach St. Mark’s Square between autumn and early spring.
“Of the twenty-five worst acqua alta recorded in Venice in the last hundred years, all over 1.5 meters, more than half occurred after December 2009,” notes National Geographic. To protect itself, the city has not hesitated to invest billions of euros in the construction of mobile walls that can be placed at the entrances to the lagoon, thus preventing water from entering. A system that could endanger the Lagoon by destroying the swamps that make it up. And if sea levels rose by 30 cm, the water entering the city could stagnate for weeks.
Wiped Mont Saint-Michel off the map?
France is not spared from the rising tides. “Some regions are vulnerable to the problem of sea level rise: Saint-Malo, the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel…”, acknowledges the climatologist Jean Jouzel in an interview with Ouest France. Located in the department of Manche in Normandy, the abbey and its village, listed as World Heritage by Unesco, could one day be flooded.
“Climate change will not only affect water levels, but also the currents, which will weaken,” explains Deborah Idier, scientific director of the Geological and Mining Research Bureau (BRGM) in Le Parisien. In the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel, for example, this affects the transport of sediments and thus the topography of the sites.
In May 2022, the French government published the list of 126 French communes that have been prioritized in the face of coastal erosion and coastal receding aggravated by global warming. Most of them are located on the Atlantic coasts and in western France. Guadeloupe, Martinique and Guyana are also affected.
VIDEO – Pakistan: People struggle against rising waters