Taipei will be undersea in future: researcher
The China Post reported on September 3, 2009
TAIPEI, Taiwan (as seen in photo above, might be under water in 2121 AD -- Taipei will be entirely under the sea by the end of this century, an Academia Sinica research fellow warned yesterday. Not just the Taipei basin will be engulfed by the rising seas triggered by climate warming, Wang Chung-ho told an Academia Sinica-sponsored seminar on climate change and the prospect of indigenous culture.
[Dr Wang, born in 1950, received his PH.D. in 1984 from the University of Hawaii -- in Marine Geology and Geophysics. He earned his B.S. degree in geology from the College of Chinese Culture in Taipei in 1976.] [for newspaper inquiries or interview requests, contact email@example.com]
Most of the plains area on Taiwan, including every city and county along its west coast, will be submerged under the rising seawater, Wang said in a research paper theorizing the attack of the seas on the island.
Wang, research fellow at the AS institute of geoscientific research, theorizes the invasion of the seas on the basis of an estimate by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that the sea level will rise by at least one meter before this century is out.
“Not 40 centimeters or 50 centimeters,” Wang said, “but one meter at the very least, that will gobble up most of the low-lying areas on Taiwan.”
Taiwan's east coast will be a little better off, however.
As a result, Wang went on, the people in the heavily populated plains would have to go up to higher ground, the mountains which are the traditional habit of most of Taiwan's indigenous Austronesian peoples.
The mass migration which would result in overdevelopment of mountainous areas, causing landslides like the ones hitting the tribal villages in the wake of Typhoon Morakot whenever heavy rains fall, Wang said.
At least 500 residents of Siaolin, the tribal village in the county of Kaohsiung, still remain buried since August 9, presumed dead.
Morakot struck Taiwan August 8-9. The village, buried in mudslides, was abandoned.
“That may be an inevitable disaster we have to face in the next nine decades,” Wang pointed out.
Climate warming is thawing the ice in the arctic ocean, Wang said. All the ice in the polar zone is expected to melt in three decades, compelling Taiwan to move its capital from Taipei to a much higher place.
“We have to be prepared for that worst scenario,” Wang added.
Dr. Liu Shao-chen, director of the climate change research center, joined Wang in issuing the warning of the rapid rise in the sea level and a tripling of precipitation.
“It's not impossible,” Liu said.
Moreover, Liu said, a rise by one degree Celcius in the temperature would increase Taiwan's precipitation by 1.4 times.
“In other words,” Liu continued, “before the end of this century, the mean rainfall will rise 2.8 times. And if no greenhouse gas emission isn't controlled, the rise will shoot up by 5.6 times.”
It means the record torrential rains that hit central and southern Taiwan in Morakot's wake will be repeated frequently, touching off devastating landslides.
But the mass exodus of people from the plains to the mountains would squeeze indigenous tribes out of their traditional habitat.
“They may have nowhere to go,” Wang said.