Rising sea levels due to climate change are threatening the survival of big cities located near coastal areas like Kolkata, Shanghai and Dhaka, said Dr RK Pachauri, chairperson of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
"There is a very high risk in delta cities like Kolkata, Shanghai and Dhaka. They are very vulnerable to the impacts of climate change due to sea level rise and coastal flooding. Both people and property would be affected in such a scenario," Pachauri told reporters.
Asking governments worldwide to start adaptation measures as soon as possible to counter the effects of climate change, the scientist said the matter has to be taken up in all seriousness.
"Scientific factors are evident. We cannot keep our eyes shut," he said.
Earlier, delivering the convocation address at the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, last night, Pachauri said, "Partial loss of ice sheets on polar land could imply metres of sea level rise, major changes in coastline, and inundation of low lying area, with greatest effects in river deltas and low-lying areas."
Such changes are projected to occur over millennial timescales, but more rapid sea level rise on century timescales cannot be excluded, he warned.
IPCC's fourth assessment report on climate change had stated, "Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global sea average level."