Singapore will be able to cope with rising global sea levels: Experts

Xue Jianyue Today Online 21 Aug 13;

Singapore will be able to cope should global sea levels rise by more than 90cm by the end of the century as scientists predicted, experts here said, citing the sea walls that have been built on the coastlines.

Even so, the Republic should look into cutting carbon emissions, ensuring food security and changing mindsets, they added.

Assistant Professor Forrest Meggers, from the National University of Singapore (NUS) School of Design and Environment, said: “Every molecule of carbon dioxide released contributes to sea level rises in the future.” A way to reduce carbon footprint is having more “zero-emission” buildings — an easier and cheaper response to building more or higher sea walls, he noted.

Currently, about 70 to 80 per cent of Singapore’s coastal areas have hard walls or stone embankments, according to the National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) website. The rest are natural areas such as beaches and mangroves.

In 2011, the Government decided the height of all new reclamations must be 2.25m above the highest recorded tide level — an increase of a metre over the previous mandated minimum height. Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan was quoted by Reuters as saying that the costly but necessary move was “buying insurance for the future”.

NUS Senior Lecturer Nirmal Kishnani pointed out that should sea levels rise drastically, Singapore’s imported food supplies might be disrupted, citing the potential loss of low-lying farm lands in the region, such as the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.

NUS Assistant Professor Kua Harn-Wei noted that the Government has been planning for rising sea levels and temperatures over the past decade.

He was more concerned with whether Singaporeans can adapt to the environmental impact of climate change.

“Rising sea levels may be just one of the many effects. We are going to get more complicated effects like stronger winds, greater storms and more flash floods. Those are the problems that we need to get ready and prepared for,” he said.