Cartagena slowly sinking as sea levels rise

Cartagena, Colombia, faces severe coastal erosion, exacerbated by rising sea levels and sinking land due to tectonic factors and submarine volcanoes. The city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is at risk of significant flooding, with predictions suggesting it could be nearly a meter underwater by the end of the century. A study published in Nature indicates that sea levels in Cartagena are rising faster than the global average, posing a threat to low-lying communities like Tierra Bomba, where repeated flooding has caused devastation.

Residents, like Kelly Mendoza, fear for their safety as homes are lost to the sea, and the sound of waves crashing against walls at night is a constant reminder of the impending danger. Efforts to mitigate the impact include the construction of a seawall to protect the city’s historic old town and vital infrastructure. However, concerns arise over the unequal distribution of resources, with marginalized communities feeling neglected in the face of environmental challenges.

Despite the risks, inhabitants of Tierra Bomba, predominantly descendants of enslaved Africans, are determined to hold onto their ancestral land, refusing to abandon their identity and heritage. For individuals like Ines Jimenez, whose life has been marked by the encroaching sea, the struggle to maintain their homes and community against the forces of nature is a lifelong battle.

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