Fri. Sep 20th, 2019

Managed Recoil Caused by Rising Oceans: a Civic Health Matter

The rise in sea level linked with climatic change is a cause of unease for both island and coastal population. The hazards may appear far off for large coastal cities (such as Miami), nonetheless, the approaching oceans are already forcing some native communities to relocate. Many others are in danger around the globe.

Preceding the disastrous flooding anticipated throughout the coming few decades, people residing in these communities can initiate an organized process of planned retreat, to elevated land.

A study by the University of Washington is examining how this course affects the people involved.

Lead writer and Doctor, Andrew L. Dannenberg said, “Managed retreat has disruptive health, sociocultural and economic impacts on the communities that relocate.”

The numerous effects include mental health issues, food security, water supply, sanitation, infectious diseases etc. A study found that displacement may bring about positive transformations, including enhanced living conditions.

“It can be a mixed blessing,” says Dannenberg.

The researchers paid attention to eight villages to study what becomes of natives and communities when people are forced to displace their homes with few resources due to the rising seas.

Researchers examined academic papers and news reports, to view the public health effects of these displacements. The community sizes ranged from 60 to 2,700 people, in places including Alaska, Louisiana, Fiji, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu.

An affected community is the Quinault Indian Nation village consisting of 660 people in Taholah, Washington, that is an increasing danger from the rise in sea level, storm surges, and tsunamis. With the help of a $700,000 grant, the residents have concluded a Master Plan to reconstruct on close by higher land. Considerable supplementary funds will be required to complete the relocation, said Dannenberg.

The writers of the study propose that human health should be a concern in the managed retreat course, even though health issues gained moderately little consideration in most of the reviewed case studies. Some relocations proved successful, others faced obstacles, like shortage of an appropriate new site, funding etc. As an official in Fiji stated: “Relocation …[is] not about moving houses, it’s about moving lives.”

“Further research is needed to better understand the public health implications of managed retreat and how to facilitate population resilience before, during and after relocation,” Dannenberg writes.