These ten places where the consequences of climate change are dramatic

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By Sophie Chapelle

On November 7, the 22th UN conference on climate change is to open in Marrakech, without being such a strong interest there is one year to that of Paris. However, climate change is no longer a distant threat. The process is well and truly underway. His first consequences are felt: Pacific islands submerged by water, villages forced to move, heritage of humanity under threat, first climate refugees … with sometimes unexpected effects such as the release of deadly bacteria hitherto locked in frozen ground. Siberia Senegal, via Italy, overview of climate catastrophe very present.

The year 2016 is poised to set a new record heat. In the first nine months of the year, the surface temperature of the planet has exceeded nearly one degree the average temperature in the 20th century, surpassing the previous record set last year …. It is in this context that stands the 22th international conference on climate in Marrakesh (Morocco) from 7 to 18 November. And that the agreement reached at the Paris conference is about to be ratified. Meanwhile, Arctic sea ice to the sunny islands of the Pacific, through Siberia, Venice and Bangladesh, the combined effects of global warming and the most polluting industrial activities are already already more severely felt.

Arctic Circle: the ice is reduced, villages move, caribou disappear

In early September, the ice in the Arctic Ocean has reached its lowest level of the year. A movie created from images taken from space, and broadcast by NASA shows the melting ice in the northern hemisphere, between 24 March and 10 September. The ice surface was divided by more than three, from 14.5 million to 4.1 million km2.

The level of 2012 – the lowest recorded ice extended so far with 3.3 million km2 – has not been achieved, says Nasa. [1] For comparison, the ice cover in summer in the Arctic area of 4 million km2 in 2007 and 5.1 million km2 in the 80 and 90 [2]. The impact of this large cast Arctic speed are felt in the entire planet: rising global average sea levels of 19 cm between 1901 and 2010 [3], changing sea and air currents, including the Gulf Stream, allowing Western Europe to benefit from a milder climate than North America and Asia at the same latitudes. A disaster for some, such as the Inuit in Alaska. A Shishmaref, Inuit village of 600 inhabitants located on a narrow strip of the Bering Strait, ocean nibbles three meters of coastline each year. The temperature increased 4 ° C in a few decades, and the ice does not protect the coast during the autumn storms. The people voted in August, moving and relocation of their village. In the region, some thirty other villages suffer the same torment.

Melting ice is however considered a boon for others: general scramble for Arctic resources – oil fish stocks through minerals – is preparing on fund border tensions (see our survey ).

In neighboring Canada, the Northwest Territories that border the Arctic Ocean, it is the caribou are endangered. The herd of Bathurst, who lives north of Great Slave Lake had 472 000 caribou there 30 years. Its population was reduced by 95%, according to a study of WWF Canada, which today counts 20,000 heads. Other Canadian caribou populations have also declined sharply, caught between the rapid warming of the Arctic north, and the expansion of the oil industry in the south (read: How to turn a boreal paradise into a muddy hell and toxic: thanks to oil sands).

Siberia: melting permafrost releases a deadly bacteria

In the Yamal Peninsula, the Arctic Circle in Siberia, temperatures of summer 2016 were unusually mild, exceeding 35 ° C. The gradual melting permafrost – permafrost or in English, areas where the soil normally remains frozen throughout the year – released anthrax spores. The carcass of an animal carrying the bacteria, which had been frozen in the ground, have been brought to light recently by the thaw. [4] The bacteria becomes dangerous if it comes into contact with a human or an animal. Since July 2016, an anthrax epidemic – or “anthrax” – has earned this region located 2500 km north-east of Moscow. A boy of 12 years died, and more than 2,500 reindeer have been decimated.

In early October, the governor of the autonomous territory announced that he would kill 100,000 reindeer Yamal to curb the epidemic. A petition has been launched by a reindeer herder against this decision, arguing that there would have been no epidemic of anthrax if the government had not ceased to distribute vaccines in 2007. He , reducing herd is driven by the interests of the gas drilling industry, that install plants in the region to exploit deposits freed by the thaw. [5] Besides the fear of epidemics, thawing permafrost also releases gases – carbon dioxide, methane – which aggravate the greenhouse effect.
Coastlines: over 450 “dead zones” in the world

From the Baltic Sea to the Gulf of Mexico “dead zones” maritime proliferate. These are sea areas containing little or no oxygen – a condition called hypoxia. marine wildlife flee or perish. Resulting from an overabundance of nitrogen, these areas are usually present near the coast, especially at the mouths of rivers and streams that drain fertilizers, agricultural fertilizers, sewage and toxic emissions from human activity. All these pollutants promote microalgae proliferation and particularly intensive phytoplankton oxygen. The oxygenation rate of water is reduced drastically, causing the death of all life. This year, the dead zone that extends into the Gulf of Mexico could reach over 15 000 km2, which is half the size of Belgium.


It was ten years ago, a UN report already sounded the alarm on the 150 identified dead zones worldwide. In 2008, a new inventory assesses their number to 450. The largest is located in the Baltic. If direct pollution are clearly singled out, climate change also contributes to deteriorate the situation. A water warming may affect the metabolism of marine species, increasing their oxygen consumption while it is scarce. The hypoxia phenomenon is reversible, international commitments have been made, particularly by Europe with the Nitrates Directive.

Mediterranean: a mammoth project to save Venice water

Founded in the 5th century, Venice is situated on 118 islands, connected by canals and 338 bridges. The Serene is increasingly frequent flooding since the mid 20th century. Between 2000 and 2010, the iconic Piazza San Marco was left over fifty times under more than a meter of water. Since the 60s, and a record flood of nearly two meters, political and scientific authorities look into the future of the city and its lagoon, included in the UNESCO World Heritage. The idea of a work of defense against high water is needed. A special law, passed in 1973 decreed the protection of Venice “priority national interest”. This mobilization gives birth to the project Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico ( “experimental electromechanical module” also called Mose or Moses) whose implementation began in 2003.

This protection system will have 78 floating dams of 20 meters wide and 30 meters high. Automated wall is supposed to prevent water from entering the lagoon. The company is colossal: 45 km of beaches have been built, 100 km from inhabited shore and 11 km of wharf were raised, 8 km of coastal dunes and lagoon islands 12 have been built. Completion is announced in the fall of 2017 with a budget of 5.5 billion euros. But the project was marred by a huge political and financial scandal. In June 2014, 35 people suspected of bribery, trading in influence and money laundering in connection with these gigantic works were arrested, including former mayor of Venice forced to resign. Furthermore, the effectiveness of the Mose project remains to be demonstrated, and it is not excluded that the concreting of funds and its impact on the currents and tides ravage the fragile lagoon ecosystem.

Amazon: The forest will not withstand a major climate change

Amazoniennes’étend the forest more than 6 million km2 and nine countries, mainly Brazil, but also France – through Guyana. [6] This tropical ecosystem is the largest reserve of flora and fauna, and provides essential services to communities living there. In late August, a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, shows that Amazonian diversity promotes resilience to climate change. That is to say its ability to replenish its plant material and store carbon dioxide. At least until a certain threshold of warming.


According to the study, the Amazon forest will survive the 21st century if CO2 emissions are capped, and the increase in global temperature stabilizes between 1.1 and 2.6 ° C by 2100. In this case, more than three-quarter of the forested land in the Amazon successfully regenerate. However, in the event of an uncontrolled pursuit of emissions, only 13% of the Amazon basin would be ability to regenerate over the long term. Other threats to the Amazon, already reduced by one-fifth of its surface by massive deforestation and the development of culture soybean and oil palm. The picture is also bleak for northern boreal forests of Alaska to eastern Siberia, will be confronted with global warming to increased risk of fire or pest attacks.

Bangladesh: 60 million climate refugees by 2050?

Bangladesh is the most densely populated country in the world: 160 million people live on a territory a third of metropolitan France. Two thirds of the land are rising to less than five meters above sea level. Here, cyclones arise every 2 to 3 years. The floods are becoming more frequent and powerful. Each time, the Bangladeshi start from scratch, with no harvest, no land or home. Soil salinity aggravates food insecurity. The list of diseases, mostly related to polluted water and salt, is growing.


Build ever higher dikes, installation of water treatment systems, consolidation of housing, cyclone shelters, rice variety testing salt-resistant … Despite the programs initiated by the government to deal climate change, every day hundreds of Bangladeshis find refuge in the slums of Dhaka, the capital. 20% of the land could disappear under water in the coming years. [7] 78 million people could be forced to migrate by 2020 due to flooding. [8]

Oceania: dozens of islands soon overwhelmed

For nearly ten years since the evacuation of the Carteret Islands in the South Pacific, began. Part of the 3000 inhabitants left their villages to be relocated on the island of Bougainville, an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea. The cause: drought and rising sea levels. On these islands where the highest point is only 1.5 meters above sea level, cropland are threatened by erosion and flooding, forcing communities to feed themselves only with fruits sea. Beginning in 2016, schools in Carteret islands have closed “because of the absence of diet for children.” Vulnerable, the elderly are no longer able to fight against diseases. By 2020, the NGO Tulele Peisa, which launched a resettlement program, hopes to have relocated more than half of the population. Only ten families – a hundred people – have so far benefited from the program due to lack of funding.


Kiribati, Maldives, Tuvalu, Marshall, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu … Many Pacific islands are also in an extremely vulnerable situation. Before being swallowed, the onslaught of salt water make uncultivable land. National and international programs of adaptation to climate change compete for short-term solutions – planting of mangroves, construction of dams, pipelines and improving the recovery of rainwater … But their relative inefficiency has led some thousand Tuvalu to leave their country for Australia and New Zealand.

Senegal: Saint Louis, under the threat of Atlantic waves

Saint-Louis, Senegal city declared UNESCO World Heritage Site, has been regularly exposed to river floods until 2003. That year, the government announced the widening of a gap of four meters in the Langue de Barbarie , a sand stretching for dozens of kilometers south of St. Louis to the mouth of the Senegal River. The idea is to promote the flow of the river to the ocean. But the result is catastrophic.


In recent years, under the force of the waves, this gap widens and now is six kilometers wide. St. Louis is no longer exposed to floods, but the ocean enters the mouth of the river through the breach, nibbling land. On the edges, the salinization of water decimates vegetable crops. Langue de Barbarie is amputated several kilometers, devoured by the Atlantic. Three villages were engulfed by [9] sea. The mayor of St. Louis promises the upcoming construction of breakwaters. The state also commissioned a study whose results are expected in late 2016 to determine whether to close or stabilize the breach. 80% of the island of Saint-Louis will be in “high risk” of flooding by 2080 [10].

Pacific El Niño threatens Galapagos Islands

At a thousand kilometers of the Ecuadorian coast, lie the Galapagos, an archipelago of 18 islands hosting a remarkable diversity of species. 180 plants are found nowhere else. But the wildlife is threatened today, following the reappearance late 2015 El Niño in the tropical Pacific Ocean. This is reflected by an abnormal increase in temperature of the eastern Pacific waters, particularly along the coasts of South America, which interrupts the upwelling rich in nutrients essential for many species. The reduction in phytoplankton grows smaller fish and invertebrates to migrate further. The food chain as a whole is affected.


El Niño had already hit the Galapagos, listed on humanity by Unesco Natural Heritage. His passing has left indelible marks: 90% of marine iguana populations have disappeared, and three quarters of penguins and sea lions half the increase in ocean temperature weakens further massive. coral archipelago accentuating their laundering. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the summer of 2016 marked an improvement. But a study published in January 2014 in the journal Nature Climate Change suggests that the most intense episodes will be twice as frequent in the 21st century.

Australia: Great Barrier Reef at Risk

The largest coral reef in the world, as large as Italy with its 2300 km long north-east coast of Australia, is wrong. Since the beginning of the year, the corals turn white. The reason: rising temperatures of the equatorial Pacific, due to El Niño, which causes the expulsion of small algae (zooxanthellae) that give the coral its color and nutrients. Some corals regain their colors in the coming months, when water cools, but many, among the most affected, may die. 93% of reefs are affected.

This increase in temperature combined ocean acidification threaten the diversity of the Great Barrier Reef, home to 400 species of coral, 500 species of fish 1 and 4000 species of molluscs. The site has already lost more than half its coral meadows in three decades. If nothing is done to protect the reef could continue to deteriorate to the same extent in the next five years. Now, as shown by several of our investigations, other threats loom over the Great Barrier Reef with the development of the coal and gas industry. Following diplomatic pressure from the Australian government, Unesco has waived include the Great Barrier Reef on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Sophie Chapelle

– A: drought in Mongolia / DC Asian Development Bank.
– Amazon Rainforest / DC VaqueroFrancis.
– House flooded Bangladesh / DC DFID.
– Marine iguana / DC Pantxorama.

[1] See press release of the US agency.

[2] Source

[3] “This increase is a departure from a stable overall level of seas over the past 3,000 years,” says paleontologist Valérie Masson Delmotte. Source

[4] See this article.

[5] Read this article.

[6] The nine countries are Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, Ecuador and French Guiana.

[7] Stern, 2007

[8] Source

[9] Also read this article on the site Jeune Afrique.

[10] See here 9.


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