Great Britain: An Underwater Empire? – Katie Glass, Ashcombe School

In the UK, we take what may seem like an unbothered stance. We shed a tear when we see Bangladesh being swallowed by our oceans or Africa becoming a sacrifice to drought and water scarcity. So, what we do, as our British selves, is buy foods with less packaging and give ourselves a pat on the back; we can sleep that night knowing we’ve helped the earth. And don’t get me wrong, every little does help, but to the current 21.5 million environmental refugees, this doesn’t really touch the surface. In fact, Australian think tank IEP predicts that by 2050 at least 1.2 billion people could be displaced by such climate-related events. So, at what point will the people in the UK really start to take action on climate change? When we are next in line to become environmental refugees?

A terrifying map, produced by Climate Central, clearly visualizes which towns will be plunged underwater by 2050. Here are some of the main victims:

  • Much of central London, south of the River Thames, including South Bank, Borough Market and Tower Bridge
  • Canary Wharf
  • Much of Stratford, home to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
  • A majority of Portsmouth, meaning we will have to say goodbye to the newly regenerated shopping area of Gunwharf Quays
  • Many popular beaches and holiday destinations on the south coast, such as West Wittering, Littlehampton and Shoreham-by-Sea

Those not in these areas aren’t totally safe. It was revealed last Sunday on Laura Kussenburg’s show that if nothing is done to help stop climate change, then the UK’s debt to GDP ratio might rise to 289% of GDP by the end of the century (debt equivalent to that at the end of the second World War). This is because a lot of our current economic model would cease to work, due to the level of infrastructure that would be underwater and global temperatures would mean that agriculture in this country is no longer viable.

Are we a doomed nation? The answer will lie in environmental politics and whether countries across the globe can implement the measures set out in the Treaty of Paris fast enough. In the meantime, we will have to watch other vulnerable nations suffer one-by-one thanks to global superpower’s actions. At home, we must continue to do all we can to become more environmentally friendly and prioritize sustainability over prosperity.

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