Rising Seas Wash Up WWII Skeletons

Climate change puts Marshall Islands at risk, official says
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 8, 2014 2:20 PM CDT
Rising Seas Wash Up WWII Skeletons

The Pacific Ocean is rising so quickly that it's washed up a little history—in the form of 26 dead soldiers from World War II, the BBC reports. At climate-change talks in Germany, Tony De Brum, foreign minister of the Marshall Islands, said spring tides did the damage: "There are coffins and dead people being washed away from graves, it's that serious." He said the dead were likely Japanese soldiers who occupied before US forces drove them out: "No broken bones, no indication of war, we think maybe suicide." Rising waters are also eroding roads, ruining fertile land, and washing up unexploded bombs and other military devices on the 29 atolls, the Guardian reports—which jibes with a UN report that the Pacific is rising faster than other sea levels (about half an inch annually compared to roughly a tenth of an inch).

De Brum urged other ministers at the talks to "commit to commit" to carbon-emission curbs, though they still need to decide whether developed countries will bear the brunt of the changes. As for the Marshall Islands, they're facing a sea-level rise of 3 to 6 feet this century, and are only 6 feet above water as it stands, so the risk is real, the Telegraph reports. "The island is not only getting narrower—it is getting shorter," President Christopher Loeak said earlier this year. “That is our worry—the disappearing of the land." Experts point out that commercial development and poorly built sea walls play a major role in damaging the islands, but one says that doesn't diminish the risk of rising waters—which "will accelerate, and on the ground the response will not be pretty." (More Marshall Islands stories.)

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