Sea Level Rise: Malaysia Under Water?

The level of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas, is up 41 percent since the Industrial Revolution due to emissions from facilities like coal-fired power plants. A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that the scientists are now 95 percent to 100 percent confident that human activity is the primary influence on planetary warming and warns that sea levels could conceivably rise by more than 3 feet (approximately 1 meter) by the end of the century if emissions continue at a runaway pace.

Global warming has basically been accelerated and the effects are getting more and more damaging towards coastal areas yet most Malaysian are still pretty ignorant about this issue. You can see a lot of seaside property development selling like hot cakes, people still keep on dumping tonnes of  GHGs to the atmosphere, traffic jam becomes a norm in cities like Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Bahru and nobody could be bothered.

What are the immediate effects to us in Malaysia? According to Economics of Climate Change for Malaysia Inception Workshop, some of the expected impact include:

  • an increase in future temperature of annual air temperature by about 1- 1.5ºC over all regions of Peninsular Malaysia will cause an increase in annual rainfall with 10% increase in Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang while Selangor and Johor will have a 5% decrease of rainfall.
  • an increase of 2ºC would reduce yield by 13% or RM200 million for rice cultivation; oil palm yields would reduce by 30% should a 2ºC rise above optimum level and decrease in rainfall by 10% or RM5 billion; for rubber production, a 10% drop in yield is predicted with increase in annual temperature above 30ºC coupled with reduce rainfall would cause retarded growth costing loss of RM400 million.

These are the macro impacts, what about the micro impact, impact that can be felt by the average Malaysian? Well, you should be deeply concerned of the direct impact because global warming causes sea level rise, and when sea level rises, most of the lowlands will be flooded completely, which means the place where you stay and work might probably be inundated.  How bad will it be? Look at the following chart:

Sea Level Rise in Malaysia

Image adapted from: International Association for Hydro-Environment Engineering and Research (IAHR)

What does this mean? It means low land areas such as Penang, Klang and Batu Pahat which are currently and frequently flooded will be under water sooner or later.  So think twice if you plan to buy sea front property but that is secondary. What matters most is that all of us have to start leading a low carbon lifestyle in order to attempt to restore the carbon balance.

Need some basic understanding of the carbon cycle? Read it here. Need more technical reading? Get it here and here.

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