Friday, August 22, 2008

West Africa's coastline redrawn by climate change: experts

Agence France-Presse: Rising sea levels caused by climate change will brutally redraw a 4,000-kilometre (2500-mile) stretch of west African coastline from Senegal to Cameroon by century's end, experts were told AFP Friday. "The cost of Guinea will cease to exist by the end of this century," said Stefan Cramer, a marine geologist and head of German green group Heinrich Boll Stiftung's operations in Nigeria.

"The countries most threatened by this looming environmental disaster are Gambia, Nigeria, Burkina Fasso and Ghana," he told AFP on the sidelines of a major UN climate conference in the Ghanaian capital Accra.

….The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had not taken into account the potential impact of runoff from the 3,000-metre (1.9 mile) thick Greenland ice cap, which covers an areas three times the size of Nigeria. Recent studies have suggested the continent-sized ice block could be melting far more quickly than once thought.

Among the cities worst hit would be the Gambian capital Banjul and Lagos, Nigeria's economic capital and home to 15 million. Some parts of Lagos lie below sea-level today and it is already subject to frequent flooding. The Niger delta's income-generating oil fields are especially vulnerable, Cramer said.

…Environmental experts offer different solutions, but all agree on the futility -- and prohibitive cost -- of erecting massive sea barriers. "The sensible option is moving to higher ground, which is a tough option especially for Nigeria as it means giving up its economic centres in Lagos and its oil installations in the Delta," Cramer said.

The Third Mainland Bridge in Nigeria, one of three bridges from Lagos Island to the mainland, shot by Zouzou Wizman, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under Creative CommonsAttribution 2.0 License

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