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Global warming could see Taiwan Presidential Office submerged

If climate predictions pan out then Taipei, Tainan and other west coast areas may be inundated

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Aogu Village, Dongshih Township, Chiayi County. (Beyond Gallery photo)

Aogu Village, Dongshih Township, Chiayi County. (Beyond Gallery photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In under 30 years we may see the Tamsui River flood central Taipei and inundate the Presidential Office if sea levels rise in line with predictions.

Taipei Main Station and Dihua Street will be underwater by 2050, as will Wanhua and Zhongzheng districts, according to the Yahoo report that cites Greenpeace and features a video of what the devastation could look like. To blame are greenhouse emissions that cause global warming.

This is producing an expansion of water volume due to the loss of mountain glaciers all over the world, but mostly in Greenland and the Antarctic. Over 10 years, the Royal Society said there has been an average rise in sea levels of up to 3.6 millimeters per year.

As world leaders gather in Scotland’s Glasgow for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), the fate of the planet is at a crossroads. If nothing is done to mitigate global warming then island nations and coastal cities will feel the brunt of nature’s devastation.

Taiwan’s geography and the role of ocean currents mean its coastal cities are going to be hit twice as hard since sea level rises here are predicted to be double the world average. Much of Taipei, Tainan, and low-lying areas along the southwest coast will likely be submerged to some extent.

The nation’s average temperature has risen about 1.3 degrees Celsius over the past century, according to the climate monitors of the Taiwan Adaptation Platform (TAP). This is also twice the global rate, with the possibility that the temperature rises by the same amount by the end of the century.

“From 1957 to 2006, summer in Taiwan has increased by 27.8 days, but winter has decreased by 29.7 days. It shows that summer has become longer and winter has become shorter,” TAP continues.

“According to the data from 1911 to 2017, as the average temperature in Taiwan has risen, the number of warm days has increased yet the number of cold days has decreased.” Furthermore, “The proportion of severe typhoons and the intensity of average rainfall has increased due to increasing sea surface temperature.”

The artist Yang Shun-fa (楊順發) has in recent years been studying the effects of climate change. In this time he has produced a wealth of great photos illustrating the threat of flooding along Taiwan’s coastline.

He said when he started taking photographs for this art series he would have to wait for the rainy season to see houses in the water. However, this happens even in the dry season now, he said.

Global warming could see Taiwan Presidential Office submerged
Yang Shun-fa work. (Beyond Gallery photo)

While the summer of 2021 saw a serious drought in many parts of Taiwan, the extreme weather events predicted by climate scientists could explain this. Even bankers are taking note of climate change.

Following the drought, Bloomberg quoted Taiwan’s Central Bank as saying global warming and its effects are becoming a focus of monetary policy. “Climate change led to the worst drought in 100 years in the first half of this year, and water shortages were severe.”

Hence, around the world, no less in Taiwan, house buyers are increasingly looking for homes that are not in climate risk hotspots. In such places, there are rising insurance costs to cover the effects of global warming, uninsurable houses, and Australian “red zones” (at risk of floods, subsidence, bushfires, and extreme winds).

In Taiwan house buyers are prepared to pay a premium for new homes safe from flooding, said one estate agent at Sinyi Realty when this writer was looking at buying a house. It's only anecdotal evidence, but he suggested that 10% premiums on houses at a higher elevation and safe from possible flooding are being paid.