“Disputed Island in Bay of Bengal Disappears”. This was the headline carried by news services all over the world when an island having an area of 10,000 sq meters ceased to exist. This marks one of the first instances of catastrophic impact of global warming on our planet.
New Moore Island or South Talpatti island was first discovered in 1974. Situated 2 kilometers from the mouth of Hariabhanga River, the island had an area of 2500 sq meters. But gradually, submerged shoals off the coast of the island were uncovered in later surveys. The island was 3.5 kilometers in length and 3 kilometers in width with an elevation of about 2 meters. Though the island was uninhabited, it was a highly disputed area, as both India and Bangladesh claimed the island as a part of their geographical area. The presence of island proved to be a major factor in deciding the maritime border of both the nations. The dispute started with hoisting of Indian flag on the island in 1981. But the dispute seems to be immaterial in the light of recent events.
A study team led by Sugato Hazra, director of Jadavpur university’s school of Oceanography, studied the data from the satellite images in 2009. The disappearance of the island is attributed mainly to the fact that the temperature of the region is rising at the rate of about 0.4 degree Celsius annually. This along with coastal erosion and super cyclones has further added to the woes of the region. Four super cyclones hit southern parts of the Sunderbans between 2007 and 2009.
A similar incident took place over fourteen years ago when in 1996, Lohachara island in the Hooghly estuary disappeared. All the inhabitants amounting to a total of 4000 people had to be relocated. Though the island re emerged later, it hasn’t yet been made sure if the the cause in that case was global warming.
But global warming seems to be the reason for the disappearance of New Moore Island. Not only the in the northern parts of Bay Of Bengal but all over the world, similar incidents can occur in near future. Maldives faces total desolation in the face of rising sea levels. President Nasheed recently brought attention to rising sea levels by holding a cabinet meeting underwater. Similarly Tuvalu and Kiribati, other low-lying countries in South Pacific between Hawaii and Australia will be affected by any rise in the sea levels. Venice, which happens to be one of the most scenic places in the world, is laced with canals. It is built on pilings over a lagoon and is sinking in the mud of the lagoon by 4 inches per year.
Global warming has not only affected the weather cycles, surface temperature but is also continuously melting the polar ice caps. This has led to an increase in sea level around the world. This is threatening the coastal areas throughout the planet. These incidents are increasing at an alarming rate. Unless there are steps being taken that are aimed towards slowing the vehemence of global warming, the situation would go beyond repair and many more coastal areas will face similar fate. To keep our blue planet turning entirely to a big blue drop in the universe, we should take notice and to everything within our power to impede such environmental problems.
The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.