Vocablets in the News: Sinking Islands

Let’s take a moment to dive deeper into a vocablet and get the whole story behind the snippet.


The Word:


The Story:

Islands are sinking into the ocean (BBC, 13 May 2011)??  What is going on here?

When I first saw this vocablet and its snippet, my thoughts went immediately to global warming and rising sea levels due to the melting of the polar ice cap.  Of course, that’s probably because I live in San Francisco, where the threat of serious damage due to flooding is being predicted for the next 100 years:

The blue and purple areas are vulnerable to flooding from sea level rise.

However, upon reading more about the islands, I learned that it’s not rising sea levels, scientists say, because the sea levels are rising at a lower rate in that region of the world compared to the global average.  Instead, scientists place the blame on the mining of coral reefs, which until 2002 had no regulations to protect the islands.

Beautiful formations like these are destroyed to make building materials and concrete.


 Why It Matters:

The islands were part of a group in the Gulf of Mannar that had been made a biosphere reserve by the Indian government in 1989.  Sadly, this means that, even though the islands were small, their sinking into the ocean means the loss of a huge amount of biodiversity.

View Larger Map

Also worrying is the fact that these islands work as a buffer for the mainland and saved many communities from destruction when the 2004 tsunami struck.

The loss of these islands should serve as a warning to those who have been abusing the gulf’s resources, and as a reminder that if people abuse natural resources instead of valuing and protecting them, they can disappear.


Making It Memorable:

What did YOU think when you saw this vocablet?  Do you have a story about submergence, sea level rise, or coral reef mining?  How is this word and its story meaningful to you?

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