Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rising seas threaten Shanghai, other major cities

Elaine Kurtenbach in the AP, from Shanghai: This city of 20 million rose from the sea and grew into a modern showcase, with skyscrapers piercing the clouds, atop tidal flats fed by the mighty Yangtze River. Now Shanghai's future depends on finding ways to prevent the same waters from reclaiming it.

…Shanghai, altitude roughly 3 meters (10 feet) above sea level, is among dozens of great world cities — including London, Miami, New York, New Orleans, Mumbai, Cairo, Amsterdam and Tokyo — threatened by sea levels that now are rising twice as fast as projected just a few years ago, expanding from warmth and meltwater.

…Chinese cities are among the largest and most threatened. Their huge populations — the Yangtze River Delta region alone has about 80 million people — and their rapid growth into giant industrial, financial and shipping centers could mean massive losses from rising sea levels, experts say.

The sea is steadily advancing on Shanghai, tainting its freshwater supplies as it turns coastal land and groundwater salty, slowing drainage of the area's heavily polluted flood basin and eating away at the precious delta soils that form the city's foundations.

Planners are slow in addressing the threat, in the apparent belief they have time. Instead, Shanghai has thrown its energies into constructing billions of dollars worth of new infrastructure: new ports, bridges, airports, industrial zones, right on the coast....

Nanjing Road is the main street in Shanghai, China's largest city with a population of 14 million people. Shot by Stephen Codrington (whose website is worth a visit), Planet Geography 3rd Edition, on Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License

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