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Rising Sea Levels Drown a Small Island in Panama

The Panamanian island of Gardi Sugdub had to be completely evacuated after segments of land were completey drowned by rising sea levels.

Panama’s president Laurentino Cortizo confirmed the evacuation of nearly 1,500 residents, blaming the crisis on climate change driven by the environmental footprint of wealthy nations.

Most of Gardi Sugdub’s residents are Guna indigenous people, who have lived on the island for centuries. To accommodate them, the government constructed a residential colony on the mainland, investing approximately US$12 million.

President Cortizo expressed concerns for the future of Panama’s other 63 Caribbean islands, many of which face similar risks from rising sea levels.

Gardi Sugdub is just the tip of the iceberg, according to climate scientists. Around 63 communities along Panama’s Pacific and Caribbean coasts are likely to encounter the same fate in the coming decades.

Scientists have warned that Gardi Sugdub will completely disappear within the next 25 years. However, no specific predictions have been made for the neighboring islands.

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Situated in the Guna Yala territory’s archipelago, Gardi Sugdub spans roughly 400 yards in length and 150 yards in width. The small island has long struggled against global warming. Its freshwater reserves have been contaminated by saltwater coming from frequent floods and eroding soil.

Panama is the first Latin American country to fully experience the devastating effects of rising sea levels, which have already submerged several islands in the Pacific Ocean.

Narayan Ammachchi

News Editor for Nearshore Americas, Narayan Ammachchi is a career journalist with a decade of experience in politics and international business. He works out of his base in the Indian Silicon City of Bangalore.

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