Land subsidence ‘can affect almost one-fifth of the population of the planet’

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Unesco warns that urban centers are sinking due to unsustainable agriculture and the exploitation of groundwater.

If no action is taken, human actions, combined with drought and increasing sea levels, intensified by global warming, will put extreme flooding at risk in many of the world’s coastal cities. In the past 10 years, Jakarta has sunk more than 2.5 meters, leading the Indonesian government to make plans to move the capital of the country to the island of Borneo.

In Europe, 25 percent of the Netherlands is below sea level due to subsidence. Sink ground, polluted water: the dark side of California’s mega-farmsRead moreGerardo Herrera-García, lead researcher on the project with the Geological and Mining Institute of Spain, said, “Areas that are heavily populated or areas that need irrigation for agriculture because they are in places that are dry”

In Iran, in the last 50 years, the population has more than doubled, though groundwater pumping has remained unregulated. The cities of the country are now one of the world’s fastest-sinking urban centers, dropping by up to 25 cm per year. While ground subsidence was a common issue in the 20th century, it was only studied in a local context.

Continued declines in these fields would have an effect on communities around the world.

It is possible to make global food production sustainable, Herrera-García said, but the problem needs to be resolved soon. Moreover, global warming is expected to lead to longer droughts, which will intensify the decrease in groundwater levels as more water is drained from underground. Meanwhile, over the next century, sea levels are expected to rise by up to a meter. This means more coastal cities In the first half of the last century, they had a very big problem in Tokyo with subsidence. Other subsidence remedies include the quest for new sources of water, productive agriculture that uses as little water as possible, and the return of water to aquifers. Everywhere, these solutions are the same and can be applied to both big and smaller aquifers,” Herrera-García said. “We are on the cutting edge, I guess. There are the solutions, and now it’s time to apply them.’

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