The tropical storm that kicked off the Pacific monsoon season Saturday has now officially killed 22,000 (expect a much larger death toll, perhaps more than 100,000) and left an estimated 1 million homeless.
How much of the event’s intensity was caused by global climate change can be debated, but I was struck by the “before” and “after” satellite view of the region.
This is what future climate-change caused sea-level rise projections look like in low-lying regions all over, not just in the Irrawaddy Delta–The Mississippi Delta, Chesapeake Bay, throughout earth.
Look at the difference between the photo on the right, after Cyclone Nargis, and on the left before the cyclone. On the right, hundreds of square miles are now under water as can be seen by the expanded blue at the bottom of the photo.
The frightening part is that this photo is not a projection. It’s real, and it’s what one million or more people are struggling to survive in at this very moment. Tens of millions more will be impacted by the resulting famine that results from the loss of not only farmers and their rice crops, but the permanently impacted center of the nation’s agriculture.
With climate change there will be slow changes to some coastlines and low lying areas.
Climate change may also literally submerge overnight coastlines and river deltas, such as these densely populated areas just outside Burma’s largest city, Yangon, which are now more part of the Indian Ocean than mainland Asia.