The Associated Press, Aug. 24, 2007
That's what likely awaits this already impoverished and overpopulated nation by the end of the century, if predictions about climate change hold true. The World Bank describes
"The situation is serious and requires immediate attention. Any delay would mean extra losses," said Mohamed el-Raey, an environmental scientist at
A big reason is the vulnerability of
The Delta was already in danger, threatened by the side effects of southern
Add climate change to the mix, and the Delta faces new uncertainties that could have a potentially more devastating effect on
Scientists generally predict that the Mediterranean, and the world's other seas, will rise between one foot (30 centimeters) and 3.3 feet (one meter) by the end of the century, flooding coastal areas along the Delta.
Already, the Mediterranean has been creeping upward about .08 inches annually for the last decade, flooding parts of
By 2100, the rising waters could wipe out the sandy beaches that attract thousands of tourists. Also at risk would be the buried treasures archaeologists are still uncovering in ancient
But those losses would pale to the impact of the worst-case scenario that some scientists are predicting -- global warming unexpectedly and rapidly breaking up the
If this happens, seas could rise by about 16 feet (4.9 meters), causing mass devastation to the region, according to a World Bank study released this year.
Richard Alley, a geosciences professor at
But even minimal sea rise in the next century would have serious consequences for
A rise of 3.3 feet (one meter) would flood a quarter of the Delta, forcing about 10.5 percent of
Also hit would be
Areas not under water would also be affected, with salt water from the Mediterranean contaminating the fresh ground water from the
But the unique and fragile ecosystem of the Delta makes the job of protecting it much greater -- and human activity has already made the task harder.
For thousands of years, annual
"The sediment created a balance. Now the coastal processes are acting alone without sediments counteracting, and the balance has been changed," said Omran Frihy, a retired coastal researcher in
Similar walls are going up in other parts of the coast including Rashid, where archaeologists in 1799 discovered the Rosetta Stone that unlocked the secrets of ancient Egyptian writing.
The government is also preparing a "national strategy study" on ways to adapt to climate change, said Maged George,
Mohamed el-Shahawy, a climate scientist at the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency, said the government was obtaining a "vulnerability index and detecting the most vulnerable regions."