Sometime the news reports are right, but this time the BBC is thick-as-a-brick wrong:
This is a story in reporter Rob Young’s mind about Liberians getting flooded by rising ocean waters due to global climate change. A brief look at the locale on Google Earth imagery, plus a tad of knowledge about coastal erosion processes and common sense, however, puts the kibosh on the whole story. Young presents the video as being about coastal fishing families in imminent danger of losing their homes from rising seas due to climate change. But look closer…
Look at Young’s featured site at lat/long N006.329642° / -W010.804113°, and while you’re at it look around along the coast to the NW and SE and into the interior from the city of Monrovia, which is where the video was taken. You can see there is plenty of land available for housing to replace the videoed slum. If you understand coastal zones, you will quickly see that the slum was constructed right to the very edge of the water. How ignorant is that? Rudimentary knowledge of coastal zones screams out that this slum was built on a coastal spit of shifting sand. How ignorant is that? Of course, the sea is nibbling away at the edge of the island, or at least one side of it! That’s what coastal barrier islands do, in rising or falling seas. Don’t Young’s editors know that?
Wait a minute! Is this really a fishing village, or is it a big city slum? Look at the fishing village just up the coast at lat/long N006.400670° / -W010.811669°. Notice all those beached fishing boats, approx 48 in number. The houses in this village are too indistinct to precisely count, but their number appears to be about the same as or a few more than the number of boats. Young’s slum OTOH has about the same number of boats (47 by my count), but that number is dwarfed by the hundreds of houses in the slum. Therefore, I seriously doubt that more than a small fraction (<10%) of the slum’s residents are fishers. In any event, it is hard to believe that there are enough fishers in the slum to support the slum. Notice that the houses in the real fishing village are set well back from the shoreline, not at all like those of the slum. Fishers know better than to build seaward of the storm tide line, whereas economic refugees from the interior do not. Notice that residential density is much lower in the real fishing village than in Young’s slum, probably because the people living in the real fishing village own their land, whereas Young’s slum residents appear to be squatters elbowing their way into the only free land available in the city!
So Young’s story is really one about a slum, created in ignorance on a coastal spit of shifting sands by people like Anna and her eight children. The very nature of Young’s presentation is one of so-called investigative reporting, but since there appears to be a complete misrepresentation of the facts in this case, I say it is not.