Original article from Kent Live
Today (April 22) is Earth Day, an international event celebrated around the world to pledge support for environmental protection
And if the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that our way of life can be turned upside-down by forces we have nearly no control over.
We must be aware of our environment and how to safeguard it more than ever.
Though we're preoccupied with COVID-19 at the moment, the future of Kent does not look all that rosy either, with climate change and rising seas threatening much of the county.
In less than 30 years time, even small rises in sea levels could lead to swathes of Kent being overtaken by the ocean, a study from Climate Central suggests.
The map is fully available to the public, with the modified version of Google Maps allowing you to see just which parts of Kent will be underwater based on current projections.
The landmark study indicates that on our current trajectory, flooding risks could be far worse than we once thought.
As a result, the UK is likely to be one of the 20 most impacted countries in the world, with Climate Central's map giving detailed breakdowns of the areas most likely to be effected.
Is there anything we can do?
The report does emphasise that the increased threat conversely means that action on climate change might bring "greater benefits from reducing" the impact on our environment.
Though we can all do more to help the environment, by cutting down on single-use products, using public transport and not wasting electricity, the problem goes beyond individuals.
Recent research has indicated that 100 companies are responsible for around 71 per cent of global emissions, increasing calls for further government action to ensure big polluters are held accountable.
Without further ado, let's dig in to the parts of Kent that are threatened by rising sea levels, to put these urgent calls for action into some context we can grasp.
The Kent areas and landmarks that are under threat
Large parts of Dover are under threat, including a large swathe of the town centre, as well as historic parts of the town like the old cruise terminal and ports to Europe.
The cliffs will protect much of the surrounding area from the tides, though coastal erosion is its own separate threat to the iconic coastline.
Deal and Thanet
In possibly the most significant change, the coastline stretching all the way from Deal to North Thanet could transform, cutting the Isle off from mainland Kent.
Deal Castle would be lost, alongside other well-known parts of east Kent, from the entirety of Sandwich to the stunning seafront at Reculver.
In possibly the most shocking feature of this map, the inland city of Canterbury is threatened by rising sea levels, as the low lying towns in the surrounding area may sink below the tides.
Connecting to the potentially newly forming channel between Thanet and mainland Kent, a number of shopping locations are threatened, from PC World to Sainsbury's.
Along with the banks of the river Stour, Kent's smallest town in Fordwich could also be flooded, along with its acclaimed pub, the Fordwich Arms.
Dungeness and Romney Marsh
Though less densely populated than other parts of Kent, easily the largest swathe of land under threat is Kent's southernmost point at Dungeness, and the surrounding Romney Marsh nature reserve.
Stretching all the way from Rye in East Sussex to Sandgate, just outside Folkestone, the low-lying saltwater marshland and surrounding towns of Lydd, Dymchurch and St Mary's Bay are also under threat.
Not only would this lead to the destruction of a unique piece of Kent's natural landscape, it also threatens the Dungeness Power station, which once generated nuclear power for the south coast.
North Kent Coast and Isle of Sheppey
Much of the north Kent coast is at risk, with the seaside from Herne Bay to Gillingham and Chatham at risk of being below the water's surface.
The historic seaside town of Whitstable is also caught up in this portion of the coast that stretches all the way to the Medway Estuary, with the town's harbour, as well as Herne Bay's now-abandoned pier set to be overwhelmed.
Sheppey is to be hit very hard too, with almost three-quarters of the island to be swallowed up, including Sheerness and the Elmley National Nature Reserve.
Rochester is an unexpected threatened part of Kent, with the River Medway's banks set to expand substantially.
Some landmarks will survive, such as Rochester Castle and Rochester's University of Greenwich campus.
However, the train station is likely to be lost, as well as St Mary's Island, the Dockyard and even areas further inland like Aylesford and Snodland.
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Thames Estuary, Dartford, Gravesend and Greenhithe
The most fascinating, and scary, part of this map is just how far the estimated impacts will stretch inland.
North west Kent is set to be partially submerged, though Gravesend Town Centre and Bluewater will be just fine.
On the flipside, the entirety of Dartford, including the town centre, Slade Green and the Dartford Crossing will become part of a much larger river Thames.
Though jokes about the tunnel being closed feel almost obligatory here, it's a stark reminder of what rising sea levels could do to Kent's landscape, and just how threatened we are by our treatment of nature.