Tech UPTechnologyIs the Netherlands going to disappear because of climate...

Is the Netherlands going to disappear because of climate change?

One of the best known consequences of climate change is the rise in sea level as a result of the melting of the poles. It is an unstoppable process that, in the most affected areas, increases the risk of erosion and flooding, as well as complicating access to drinking water.

It is estimated that around 10% of the world’s population lives in areas that are less than ten meters above sea level. According to the estimates of the last special report on oceans of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), for the year 2100 and in a scenario of high emissions, the sea level would rise 1.1 meters in the most vulnerable areas.

In this context, many of the most populous cities on the planet could be at risk of disappearing, and there is one country that has more than enough reason to worry. The name of the Netherlands is not random, since much of its surface is below sea level. The Dutch are expert managers in the field of hydraulic engineering, and for centuries they have won the battle over the waters through a complex system of dikes and canals that are also one of the country’s hallmarks.

But, until now, the inhabitants of the Netherlands did not have to face a sea whose volume is increasing, nor extreme meteorological phenomena of increasing intensity. Climate change adds an added difficulty to those in charge of setting up an urban and hydraulic management plan in a country that is literally sinking. And, according to a digital soil map published by the Netherlands Center for Geodesy and Geoinformatics in 2018, the Dutch soil is sinking faster than expected due to climate change and human action. If no action is taken, the subsidence could exceed 50 centimeters in the next 50 years.

“Even for a country as developed as the Netherlands, the expected rate of change in sea level and the high level of uncertainty regarding predictions makes us think that current strategies may not be sufficient,” explains a recently accepted article in the journal Environmental Research Letters and that analyzes the implications that an extreme rise in sea level would have on this country’s adaptation plan.

The Delta Plan

In 1953, the southwest of the Netherlands suffered a series of devastating floods, as a result of which the government launched the Delta Plan, designed to protect itself from such events and guarantee the necessary supply of fresh water . Initially, the program focused on agreements about the limits of the coast and determining the height that the levees should have but, more than sixty years later, the picture has changed a lot.

As we have already mentioned before, the sea level has risen, there are more extreme meteorological events and, in addition, the population has grown, with which there are more people potentially affected. About 60% of the country is at risk of ending up under water, including some of its large cities and economic centers. For this reason, mitigation and adaptation to climate change must be taken into account when making urban plans.

One of the new lines of action of the Delta Plan includes the identification of the areas of the Netherlands that are most vulnerable to extreme weather conditions. “Our intention is that the spatial planning of the Netherlands prepare us for the extreme weather of 2050, taking into account both floods and prolonged periods of drought and heat, ” it is indicated in the climate change section of the 2019 program.

And, beyond public works, the experts who update the program also recommend adaptation to climate change in the planning of new homes, taking into account these criteria both in the selection of locations, to avoid the most flood-prone areas as much as possible, as in the construction methods used.


Room for the River

Another of the programs launched by the Dutch Government is the so-called Room for the River which, instead of limiting and channeling, it was proposed to give more space to the river to be able to manage the floods. The idea was to select locations at risk in which to ‘return the land to water’ and avoid floods with disastrous consequences.

The implementation of this project has not been easy, since many houses and farms have had to be demolished, but the Dutch are working against the clock to avoid disappearing under the waters of the North Sea.

Will all your efforts help?

Despite all the measures put in place, there are many voices that wonder if all this will only delay the inevitable. ” In the long term, we should consider a controlled withdrawal ,” Michiel van den Broeke, a polar meteorologist at Utrecht University, declared last year in an interview with a Dutch media outlet. “All the long-term effects are being ignored, we think that adaptation will solve all our problems, and it is a mistake.”

Scientists identify the exact number of hamburgers you can eat without destroying the Earth

A new report highlights how much we should reduce our meat consumption per week to prevent the climate crisis from worsening.

Earth has reached 'Code Red' in pollution

A new report warns that humanity is 'unequivocally facing a climate emergency'.

Just two hamburgers a week? Study says that will save the world

Mexico contributes only 1.4% of greenhouse gas emissions, and yet could experience more natural disasters in the southeast. Reducing meat consumption could prevent it.

Same as in Mexico: Government of Argentina wants to control all lithium in the...

The state company YPF-Litio is preparing to enter the exploitation of this material, from the extraction in the salt flats to the manufacture of batteries.

How can we observe climate change?

Climate change happens over relatively long periods of time, we need records of what the climate was like in the past to observe this change.