Countries around the world are starting to gradually show the effects of the rising sea levels. The WHO states that the average surface temperature could possibly rise by 1.1 to 6.4 degrees Celsius over the 21st century. This startling statistic can cause a tremendous yet destructive change to what we call home. Over time, as the sea and air temperatures rise, glaciers and ice shelves begin to melt. In the book, Global Warming, John Houghton says that “If all the glaciers outside Antarctica and Greenland were to melt, the rise in sea level would be about 50 centimeters. The total range of uncertainty by 2100 is from about 10 centimeters to 90 centimeters.” Many people live sufficiently above the level of high water, which allows them not to be affected from the rising seas. However, half of humanity inhabits the coastal zones around the world. Within these, the lowest lying are some of the most fertile and heavily populated. To people living in these areas, even a few centimeters increase in sea level can add enormously to their problems. Some of the areas that are especially vulnerable are large delta areas (Bangladesh), areas that are close to the sea level where sea defenses are already in place (Netherlands), and small low-lying Pacific Islands (Maldives). All around the world, coastal regions are threatened by this disaster waiting to slowly creep up. If the time were to come, the salt water would intrude on the fertile farmland and destroy the land that once grew specific to the coastal area. This farmland feeds millions of people and if it were to be destroyed, starvation would rise and death would follow. Worldwide debt would continue to rise due to the millions left jobless and homeless. On top of this, diseases would be able to spread from the immense amount of water pollution.
Human-induced climate change is an emerging threat that brings about widespread policy and public attention. The hard thing about each prediction is that it is always hard to foresee what is going to happen, and even the computer-produced predictions are not always accurate. It is almost impossible to just point out any outbreak or any death and say, “This occurred because of climate change.” But it is known that good public health relies on a long list of factors: the availability of doctors and nurses, medicines, clean water, and proper sanitation. Even with all these things at hand today, millions of people die every year of what should be preventable diseases. With global warming, the expected death toll is to be even higher.