Global warming has caused sea levels around the world to rise at an alarming rate since the early 1990s, putting coastal cities such as Venice, Italy, as well as entire islands at risk of being swallowed alive by the oceans like a modern Atlantis. But on the Marshall Islands, the rising waters caused by global warming have recently had an effect that seems right out of a horror movie.
“These last spring tides in February to April this year have caused not just inundation and flooding of communities but have also undermined regular land, so that even the dead are affected,” said Republic of the Marshall Islands Foreign Minister Tony De Brum, at the United Nations climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany.
He added, “There are coffins and dead people being washed away from graves, it’s that serious.”
During World War II, the Marshall Islands served as the headquarters for Japan’s Sixth Fleet. But in 1944, United States forces invaded the island and destroyed the Japanese bases on the islands, about 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii in the Pacific Ocean, killing hundreds of Japanese soldiers.
De Brum said that that 26 recently exposed bodies that were apparently washed up from a mass grave are believed to be those of Japanese soldiers who took their own lives rather than surrender to, or be captured or killed by, the invading American troops in the decisive World War II campaign.
“We think they are Japanese soldiers, no broken bones, no indication of war, we think maybe suicide,” De Brum said.
While oceans around the globe have been rising at a rate of about 0.14 inches per year for the past two decades due to global warming, waters around the Marshall Islands are rising dramatically faster, posing a critical danger to the islands which sit just under 20 feet above sea level.
Sea levels around the Marshall Islands have been rising at almost half an inch per year.
Global warming causes sea levels to rise due to three major factors:
• Warmer water occupies more space, because warming causes water to expand. About half of all the increase in sea levels is due simply to water warming up and therefore, taking up more space.
• Glaciers and polar ice caps are melting at a rate faster than the water runoff can be replaced by snow.
• Greenland and Antarctica are also melting. Both massive land masses are covered in huge sheets of ice, but due to global warming, that ice is melting, causing runoff into the oceans and, as a result, rising sea levels.