Home WORLD These photos show what the rising sea level actually looks like now

These photos show what the rising sea level actually looks like now

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Kadir van Lohuizen / NOOR

Norberto Hernandez and his wife Olga were exiled to Sucunuadup Island, where they used coral to strengthen themselves. Panama’s Kuna Yala (San Blas) consists of a long and narrow piece of land and an archipelago of 365 islands, 36 of which are inhabited. Due to rising sea levels, Kunas had to evacuate to the mainland.

For most of the past ten years, Kadir van Lohuizen I have been using photography to document the climate crisis and explore its meaning for the future. Ever since they came across in Panama during a reporting trip, Dutch photojournalists have been documenting the effects of rising sea levels around the world. Van Lohuizen works closely with scientists and while learning a lot about human migration and tides, he also managed to visually prove what many experts have been warning for years: our coastline is in danger.

His works are spread across 11 countries and have been used in speeches at the United Nations and the Paris Climate Summit, and have been produced into TV series, books and multiple exhibitions. Currently visiting the New York City Museum, high tide, Highlighting that the island city will be affected by the upcoming changes.

His book, After the floodA comprehensive introduction to the slow-motion climate change that is happening on each continent-and how it affects the people there. Although some countries have proven adept at adopting forward-looking policies, including relocation strategies, many countries refuse to recognize that sea level rise is only a regional issue. Van Lohuizen’s work clearly points out the close connection between civilization and the ocean, challenging the audience to think more strictly about the future.

Kadir van Lohuizen / NOOR

New York as seen from the swamp surrounding the Hackensack River in New Jersey in 2018.

Did you know that this project will take many lives?

I started from 2011-2012, just a short story. I am studying contemporary immigrants in the Americas. I traveled overland from Chile to the northern end of North Alaska for a year to study why people emigrate.

When I interviewed people on the San Blas Islands in Panama, they said to me: We are being evacuated because the sea level is rising. “I am a little confused, because you are speaking to them from the bottom of the sea, as if you are six feet below sea level. That was ten years ago. I know that sea level rise is an upcoming issue, but I I haven’t realized that this is already a problem. If there is a sense of urgency elsewhere, I start to study different parts of the world. The biggest challenge is how to visualize what is not yet visible?

So, how to make it a strong image that people will understand?

It requires a lot of research because I want to find areas outside of areas where people may have realized that this has become a problem, such as in Pacific countries or Bangladesh. I really want to talk about this on a global scale.

I actually thought I was going to close the project in 2015 because it felt like I was starting to repeat myself. How many islands or eroded coastlines can you display? At first it was a collaboration with the “New York Times”, then became an exhibition, and participated in the climate summit in Paris, and finally, the Dutch public television station contacted me. That allows me to go back to some places I have been, and sometimes I find the same people.

I have collaborated a lot with scientists. I absolutely have to adapt to my working method early in the story, because you usually know that as a photographer, you will work under light. I quickly discovered that if I wanted to visualize it, I had to work with the tide. If you see that this land has been flooded at high tide, it is difficult to imagine what it would mean if the sea surface rose permanently by three or six feet. It is not a question whether many sea levels are rising. When is this a question.

Kadir van Lohuizen / NOOR

In the high tide of Miami Beach, the street water flows over the poorly maintained breakwater in the Indian River and rises through the drainage system.

When do people decide to relocate?

You might think that when water is permanently present in your house, the problem does become urgent, but it started much earlier. If the sea inundates the land and then often does not shrink, people will not be able to grow crops because the soil is salinized and drinking water becomes slightly salty. This is a good reason for relocation. Usually, this is not coordinated by the government, but the people themselves make this decision.

Where are people moving? Are they going to the city? Are they going to other countries?

It depends on where you are, right? If you are in an island country such as the Marshall Islands or Kiribati in the Pacific Ocean, there is nowhere to go because it does not exceed three to five feet above sea level. Not only do people do not know where to move, but they also do not know where to move the country.

If you have to relocate, you will actually become a climate refugee, especially if you have to cross the border. And this is just an unresolved problem internationally, which is a bit crazy. If you are trying to seek asylum somewhere for climatic reasons, the chance of granting it to you is zero. It is usually considered to be a national or local issue. Therefore, there is a problem in Bangladesh and a problem in the Netherlands, but it has not been resolved internationally.

Kadir van Lohuizen / NOOR

The edge of the ice sheet near Kangerlussuaq and Meltwater River in Greenland in July 2018.

Sea level rise is one aspect of the climate crisis, but it is clearly much broader. I don’t know the extent of the discussion in the United States, but many people are fleeing Central America because there is no water, or they no longer grow crops, they are losing land.

By the way, these people on the islands of Panama are still there. This was the government’s plan, and the money suddenly disappeared. They are indigenous people and do not have the highest priority in the Panamanian government. So this is very interesting.

I noticed that initially, when I got there, people told me they were relocating and they were unwilling to do it. It was obvious, right? If someone tells you that you must leave the land of your ancestors, this is very difficult news for anyone: lose your life and go to a higher land, where you must learn to be a farmer, and you are always a fisherman here.When i come back [later], This seems very complicated. People were eager to leave at the time because they felt it had become too dangerous.

Kadir van Lohuizen / NOOR

A mother and daughter in the former village of Bainpara, Bangladesh. Some houses still exist, but most of them were swallowed by Hurricane Ali in 2009.

Kadir van Lohuizen / NOOR

Children played on the beach. In Temwaiku, a fragile village in South Tarawa, Kiribati, the children put sandbags on the beach to try to stop the ocean.

For many years, you have been dealing with conflicts and migrations and these very complex social issues. Is this very different from dealing with the climate crisis?

I think they are becoming the same. We know that one of the main reasons for the conflict in Syria was initially water shortages. If you see the situation in the Sahel and elsewhere, it is usually related to the climate crisis. Then, if Al Qaeda or ISIS or anyone intervenes, it will change the story, but they are often interconnected.

In the whole process of this project, have you seen the solutions or strategies that are being developed, do you think it is possible, maybe we have passed this critical point, but maybe not all have disappeared?

I hope I can give a balanced view. Many people have asked me that Bangladesh must be very frustrating, but that is not the case because people are taking solutions in their own hands. They have been with water all their lives. They know what will happen and they will adapt. I have met many people who have moved five to nine times. Then, if the current environment is no longer sustainable, they will move to big cities. bouncy.

There is nothing new about rising sea levels. The biggest difference is that it has been used for hundreds or even thousands of years, and it has now occurred for two generations. This makes it unique.

Before the Dutch were so well protected by dikes, people just built hills on the land to make sure their houses were dry, otherwise they would move to another area. Especially in Western countries, we have lost our ability to adapt. We believe that cities like New York, Miami or Amsterdam must remain the same. Obviously, we are now dealing with a larger population.

The Dutch Delta Commissioner asked a large engineering company to study the worst-case scenario as early as 2018. Basically, the worst-case scenario is that if no measures are taken, and if we do not reach the level of global temperature reduction stipulated in the Paris Agreement, the sea level in the Netherlands may rise by three to nine feet by the end of the year. century.

That was 80 years. If you were born today, you may witness it. In the Netherlands, we may be able to cope with three feet, but not six or nine feet. Therefore, the plan on what self-protection measures the Netherlands should take is absurd, but it seems that the latest realistic plan is to relocate.

It is a very difficult concept to imagine that a city like Amsterdam or Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port, might be abandoned.

Kadir van Lohuizen / NOOR

Seagate, off Coney Island, New York, is very vulnerable to rising sea levels.

I think it’s also a problem in New York. It was not until Hurricane Sandy that people began to really consider and take sea levels seriously, and investment was still very slow. It’s been eight and nine years since Sandy, and in terms of what actually happened, there was almost nothing.

Obviously, many things can be done. The Dutch have proven that you can live in a country below sea level, but this is a very high investment, and it took centuries to create it in this still small country.

Most of the east coast of the United States is unprotected. Worse, the people living on isolated islands. There are very, very valuable real estate on the barrier island, but you should not live on the barrier because the barrier should move, be hit by the storm and form a buffer zone that protects the land.

The time factor is a huge problem. Bangladesh is one of the few countries that has launched a huge master plan to protect its coastal areas, which is the “Delta Plan 2100”. This is an interesting plan because it is not only talking about dikes and land protection, but also looking for goals. People may have to relocate, and if they must relocate, they must be provided with new livelihoods. It’s interesting.

Initially, I did not include the Netherlands because I was looking for an emergency area or country in the world, and the streets of Amsterdam would not be flooded. Regarding the climate crisis, we always believe that the situation will not be as bad as expected, but there is no single reason why this is correct, because every scientific report is actually painted a darker picture.

I often ask myself, how is this possible? The answer to this might be that we are in our comfort zone, right? We grew up in the context of economic growth, and your children may live a better life than us. We need to make sacrifices that we don’t like. So, you know, taking a step or two back and making compromises to ensure that the next generation can still do it is a very different and difficult concept for us.

Kadir van Lohuizen / NOOR

Due to flooding, Wierschuur in the east of Terschelling in the Netherlands could not be reached in 2019.

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