Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on August 18 warned of a future where the East Coast Park of Singapore will be replaced by seawater.
Could this dark prediction of Singapore’s future be just one of the scenes from a Hollywood sci-fi movie or an accurate picture of what is to come?
The “Commentary: As ice caps melt, Singapore a hot spot for sea-level rise” that Benjamin P. Horton authored for the Channel News Asia (CNA) states that the global sea-level rise in the 20th century is much faster than in the past 27 centuries. It mentions the bad news that sea-level rise will be even more rapid in the 21st century.
The tragic consequences of sea-level rise in the next 80 years and the future are enumerated in the article, and one would think reading it that it’s a scene from one of those Armageddon or apocalypse-type films.
Aside from the sad consequences of sea-level rise mentioned in the article, there is the case of ocean acidification.
Ocean acidification happens when the pH balance of seawater increases, making the water acidic. The historical pH balance of the ocean has been 8.2 and has grown by 25 per cent in the last two centuries.
What is making the ocean acidic is the increased carbon emissions and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which are absorbed by the oceans. Acidic oceans threaten coastal life and ecosystems and can dissolve the shells of shellfish and corrals that depend on calcium carbonate to build their outer casings.
According to the article, the Earth Observatory of Singapore found a link between global surface temperature changes and sea level rise.
Increased sea levels will result in more flooding and erosions of the coasts in Singapore, and then the low-lying areas and islands are in danger of being swallowed up by the sea. Even today, coastal erosions affect a business like beach resorts as decay creeps up, harming the industry.
Global warming poses two risks, sea-level rise by melting glaciers and ice sheets; and thermal expansion, which means that water grows in volume as it warms up.
Antarctica has enough water to raise sea levels by 65 cm. “That’s more than a third of the height of the Singapore flyer and seven times the height of the Merlion statue,” the article says.
Because Singapore lies almost on the equator, it is vulnerable to melting ice caps as the water is drawn towards the equator. Singapore will have about 30 per cent more share of water if this happens.
Singapore is committed to doing something about this
Singapore has already taken steps to reduce its carbon emissions and plans to bring together research experts to understand how the rising sea level will impact the country.
The country is prepared to spend $100 billion on climate adaptation measures given that the path forward is clear in understanding the science of sea-level rise.
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