Special Report

20 Islands That Will Disappear in Your Lifetime

Source: EyeJoy / iStock via Getty Images

11. Tangier Island, Virginia
> Population: 701

Tangier Island, Virginia, also called the soft-shell capital of the world, is on the front lines of climate change in the United States. The highest point of the island is just 6 feet above sea level. The island has lost two-thirds of its total landmass since 1850.

Storm-powered erosion and sea-level rise of about an inch per year may force people to flee the island. The state of Virginia has offered $3 million to build a wall around the island’s harbor, but some residents believe a wall around the entire island would be needed to prevent further erosion.

Source: jalvarezg / Getty Images

12. Cape Verde
> Population: 548,935

Cape Verde is a nation comprising a group of islands off the west coast of Africa. Like many island states, Cape Verde is vulnerable to climate change impacts because of its relatively small above-water landmass, high population density, inadequate protective infrastructure, and a shortage of potable water resources.

Because of its geographic location, Cape Verde is also prone to natural catastrophes. Im 2007, the archipelago has embarked on a strategy to integrate environmental issues into its planning goals and promote sustainable development.

Source: EvaKaufman / Getty Images

13. Kiribati
> Population: 117,606

Kiribati, which consists of 33 islands with a total landmass of just 309 square miles that are no more than 6 feet above sea level, may actually become the first to be completely submerged by rising sea levels due to global warming. Rising sea levels have already swallowed sections of the coastline. The country is expected to become uninhabitable long before it’s completely under water.

Source: Sergio Calleja (Life is a trip) / Wikimedia Commons

14. French Polynesia
> Population: 279,287

French Polynesia is home to two of the most exotic travel destinations in the world — Bora Bora and Tahiti. With the island group threatened by rising seas, the California-based Seasteading Institute has introduced the Floating City Project, which is a proposed self-sustainable community whose energy is provided by solar and wind power.

The Pacific nation became the first in January 2017 to sign an agreement to build the floating islands off its coast. The U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said sea levels in French Polynesia are expected to rise by as many as 32 inches by the late 21st century.

Source: PietroPazzi / Getty Images

15. Vanuatu
> Population: 299,882

Vanuatu, formerly called the New Hebrides, is an island nation in the South Pacific, northeast of Australia and west of Fiji. Like many islands in the Pacific, rising ocean temperatures as a result of climate change will have a profound impact on the nation’s fisheries, one of the most significant sources of food in Vanuatu, and the impact will be felt also in tourism.

The nation is already feeling the effects of coastal erosion and ocean acidification. Vanuatu is signatory to the Paris Agreement that aims to limit greenhouse gases, and it has adapted plans to reduce the risk of disaster from these inevitable changes.

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