Posted by: r.m. | August 21, 2009

‘we are going underwater’

From the Guardian

“”We are going underwater,” the 34-year-old [Egyptian Nile Delta farmer] says simply. “It’s like an occupation: the rising sea will conquer our lands.”

Two years ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change declared Egypt’s Nile Delta to be among the top three areas on the planet most vulnerable to a rise in sea levels, and even the most optimistic predictions of global temperature increase will still displace millions of Egyptians from one of the most densely populated regions on earth.

A farmer ploughs his rice paddy in the Delta. Photograph: Jason Larkin

A farmer ploughs his rice paddy in the Delta

Already, a series of environmental crises are parking themselves on the banks of the Nile. Some are subtle, like the river’s quiet vanishing act in the Delta’s northern fields; others, like the dramatic collapse of coastal lands into the ocean, are more striking. Major flooding is yet to become a reality but, from industrial pollution to soil salinity, a whole new set of interconnected green concerns is now forcing its way into Egyptian public discourse for the first time.

The scale of the crisis – more people, less land, less water, less food – is overwhelming, and has infected discussion of climate change with a toxic combination of cynicism and fatalism at every level. There are senior environmental officials in top scientific jobs here who do not believe climate change is real; others are convinced the problem is so great that human intervention is useless. “It’s down to God,” one environmental officer for a major Delta town tells me. “If the Delta goes we’ll find new places to live. If Egypt was big enough for Mary and Joseph, then it will be big enough for all of us.”

Of course, if sea levels do rise significantly, “then the debate is over,” says Dr Tutwiler. “The land will be underwater and crop production will be over.”


  1. Well, Dr Tutwiler should not be desperate because there are many solutions such as using protective elements like breakaway walls, levees, and berms; also, one of the best solutions that i like best is building houses that arise with the ascent of water level.

  2. Climate change is one of the most important effects of the green house that are affecting us nowadays. Eygpt is a good example to show so. there are things that people there can apply in order to make their enviroment suitable for such climate changes and to the consequences it causes, but the quetion is how long will they be forced to do such things? is their life style always going to change with t5he change in climate?

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