Global climate change is ongoing, sea levels rise and lowland countries are threatened. Examples of such countries are Thailand, Singapore and The Netherlands. Having attended lectures regarding Thailand and Singapore already, I would like to point out mitigation and adaptation of The Netherlands against rising global sea levels.
The first problem that I want to highlight is that the Dutch soil is sinking by ten centimeters every century (Knip Karel, 2008). This means that sea level rise and soil sinks, creating a larger gap between the two. The estimation of rising sea levels for the 21st century is 85 centimeters (Bescherming tegen water, 2008). This poses large threats to The Netherlands, which are outlined in appendix 2. Most solutions that The Netherlands offers are mitigation, rather than adaption. Dykes in North-Holland are reinforced along a 117 kilometers wide coastal region by 1.80 meters (Kritiek op verhoging waterpeil Ijsselmeer”, 2008). In addition, the Maeslantkering in Hoek van Holland automatically closes its doors to keep the sea from entering and threatening the port of Rotterdam when levels exceed three meters above the Dutch soil. As such, the Dutch economic capacity has been protected until this day.
The second problem is higher river discharge due to accelerated melting rates in the Alps. The solution to this is adaption, rather than mitigation. The Dutch politicians adapted a policy that ‘thinks with the water’. This means that people have moved to allow more arable land to flood in case of high river discharge.
The third problem is coastal erosion; a phenomenon shared by Bhan Khun Thian in Bangkok and by Singapore. The Netherlands has recently supplied sand, which has been distributed naturally along the coastal line. As such, mitigation against coastal erosion is implemented to decrease any loss of valuable land. The situation in Bhan Khun Thian can be argued to be worse off, since great losses have been experienced.
Finally, like Singapore, The Netherlands have its own fresh water lake, the IJsselmeer. Delta Commission ex-chairman Veerman intended to increase its level by 1.5 meters at the costs of 100 milliard Euros to keep salt sea water out (Huisman, Jef, 2008). Recent thoughts of the commission however predict enough fresh water systems in place in every province during extreme droughts (Binnenlands Bestuur, 2011). Therefore, heightening the IJsselmeer in the short term is unnecessary.
Thus, the main solutions of The Netherlands involve mitigation rather than adaption. The small country with an undesirable geographic position has managed to secure its economic capacity and population using dykes, sand and floodable areas. In addition, measures to contain global warming and its effects are increasingly implemented. This makes The Netherlands a stable country with spare adaptation measures for future needs.
Copyright Morgen - M.P. van Roeden