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The Incredible Sinking Mega-Metropolis

We humans certainly don’t make it easy for ourselves. In yet another example of the dangers of civilization, a coastal megacities around the world are sinking, often much faster than the sea is rising to meet them, according to a new study. The BBC reports:

In some parts of the globe, the ground is going down 10 times faster than the water is rising, with the causes very often being driven by human activity. […]

Gilles Erkens from the Deltares Research Institute, in Utrecht, in the Netherlands, said parts of Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok and numerous other coastal urban settlements would sink below sea level unless action was taken. […] “Land subsidence and sea level rise are both happening, and they are both contributing to the same problem – larger and longer floods, and bigger inundation depth of floods,” Dr Erkens told BBC News.

Plate tectonics account for some of the subsidence in places like Venice, but researchers say human activity is contributing to this sinking at a much greater rate. Pumping groundwater for human consumption leaves behind empty space, and the earth on top sinks to fill it. Tokyo has sunk more than six feet in recent years as a direct result of such practices. Venice, perhaps the city most famous for battling the sea, has also sunk over the past century as the result of artesian well drilling. Finding water for these megacities is no easy task, and often they have no choice but to get it from somewhere else. As one expert put it, “Tokyo did that and subsidence more or less stopped, and in Venice, too, they have done that.”

Rising sea levels get plenty of attention from the media, mostly in the context of climate change. But subsidence, admittedly another man-made problem, seems at the moment to be far more urgent.

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  • emersonushc13

    Sinking land does not conform to The Narrative unless a way is found to use it to defund democracy.

  • Gene

    Greens add one more apocalyptic talking point to their very long list. Practical people shrug, put their boots on and find solutions. World continues to spin, life goes on.

  • Richard Quigley

    Subsidence caused by groundwater depletion is the result of using a resource faster than its rate of replacement. It is not that the resource should never be used but that it should never be consumed at a rate greater than its replacement rate.

  • Fat_Man

    Move to higher ground, build sea walls, drive new pillings into the ground and rebuild on better foundations.

    Venice used to do these things. They need to get back to them.

    • Corlyss

      “Move to higher ground, build sea walls, drive new pillings into the ground and rebuild on better foundations.”
      Ancient Ephesus had to move 3 times, to get closer to the sea, because the runoff from the surrounding hillsides denuded by the goats silted up their harbor. If they can do it . . .

  • Corlyss

    What we need is another age of global glaciation.

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