Singapore's achievements as a city-state have a downside that the public is often not mindful of. The sight of concrete high-rises, highways and an ever-aspiring skyline obscures the reality that this city-state is still an island. While its economic links with the rest of the world and the strength of its social and military defences are undeniable, they do little to offset its geographical vulnerabilities. Rising sea levels created by climate change pose an existential challenge to all island-states. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), many small island-nations are a few metres above the present sea level, thus facing the threat of "permanent inundation".
Among the most vulnerable of those states are the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Tonga, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Cook Islands in the Pacific Ocean; Antigua and Nevis in the Caribbean Sea; and the Maldives in the Indian Ocean. The IPCC notes that in many threatened small island-states, especially the atoll nations of the Pacific and Indian oceans, much of the critical infrastructure and many socio-economic activities tend to be located along a coastline that in several cases is at or close to the present sea level. Such vulnerabilities are compounded by global warming and climate variability. While larger nations can move coastal populations around, some of those states are running out of time.
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