The Netherlands is the world’s second-largest producer of greenhouse gases. The country also has an unfortunate propensity for natural flooding and is therefore highly susceptible to rising sea levels and other consequences of climate change.

However, while other countries might be prompted by such factors to alter their ways and begin reducing emissions, the Dutch have taken a different tack. In response to increasingly swampy weather, they’ve proposed raising much of the nation above sea level – by one meter (that’s about three feet). This plan seems like a perfect example of solving a problem by throwing money at it. But isn’t it actually just the first step on a longer road that will inevitably lead to our vanishing completely?

If you have read the “about me” page, you might already know that I am from the Netherlands, The Hague, but I am now living in Argentina.

Many years ago, I wasn’t that much interested in climate change. I really enjoyed the Netherlands’ tropical heat waves because the average temperature in summer is 25 – 32 Celsius (80F) degrees. So I loved to sit on our terrace with a smoothie while sunbathing, and so did many other Dutch people.

But in 2019, Europe got hit by an intense heatwave which turned summer into a very… tropical summer with over 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). The summers in the Netherlands are pretty humid; 32 degrees feels like 40, so imagine when it was 40 degrees. Things got serious.

Spain got hit pretty badly as well back in 2021 during another heatwave. The highest temperature ever recorded was in Montoro (Córdoba) at 47.3ºC (118 F).

In the last few years, rising sea levels have been quite a topic. Heat waves are hitting countries across the globe, and the melting glaciers and ice caps are not helping. Scientists say greenhouse gases like methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide are the root of the problem.

Dr. Peter Kuipers Munneke, a polar meteorologist at Utrecht University, said that ‘the question is not if the Netherlands will disappear below sea level, but when?’.

The North Sea Flood

Back in 1953, there was a North Sea flood, a major flood caused by a heavy storm at the end of Saturday, 31 January 1953, and the morning of the next day, with 1,836 deaths. Driven by the combination of wind, high tide, and low pressure caused the sea to flood land up to 5.6 meters (18.4 ft) above mean sea level. Most sea defenses facing the surge were overwhelmed, causing extensive flooding.

Of course, The Netherlands is famous for its dikes and excellent water infrastructure, which protects The Netherlands from the ocean that’s trying to regain its territory. Still, things are going a bit too fast now, faster than we initially thought.

If the sea levels rise slows down, The Netherlands would be able to adapt. Otherwise, they might run out of time. shows the map of the area which could get flooded if the water level rises to a particular elevation; in this case, just 1 meter shows that the coastal side of the Netherlands, which includes its political city, The Hague, and capital Amsterdam, will lose its territory against the water.

The Netherlands is running out of time when looking at Climate Central’s sea level rise and coastal flood maps by 2050, which are based on peer-reviewed science in leading journals.

You might expect that the Netherlands is working hard on a plan B, but despite the urgent need for a Plan B, there has been no proper debate about the issue. Reducing the CO2 emissions and reinforcing the dikes is just a small part of protecting itself from the North Sea.

Miami Could be Next

According to The Expertise Network for Flood Protection (ENW) , The Netherlands can handle a sea level rise of up to 1 meter from a technical and economic point. From a technical point of view, 2 meters could be possible, but this has significant consequences for the Dutch nature and the infrastructure.

It is not just the Netherlands that’s on its way to becoming the next Atlantis. Miami is also risking the same. According to Dr. Wanelss’s research, by the year 2060, nearly 60% of Miami-Dade county will be underwater. Scientists from the University of Miami say that a few decades from now, coastal cities and towns in Miami will be sunk.

As I mentioned above, many years ago, I didn’t care that much about climate change, but nowadays, I really do. It worries me that there is a high chance that the sea can swallow my country. As Dr. Peter Kuipers Munneke said, It is a matter of “When” and not “If.”

Whether this will happen within the next 100 years or later in the future… what I am most curious about is if the Dutch government has an “emergency plan.” If the ocean regains territory, the entire “Randstad” will be taken, which has an estimated population of 8.366 million citizens (Jan 1, 2020). We either let this happen and evacuate 8.366 million people, or we create “islands”.

As most of my readers are from the US, United Kingdom, France, India, and even the Netherlands (Hoi Landgenoten!), I really wanted to share more about this. Still, there’s barely any information on this.

There is a Dutch Series called “The Swell – If the Dykes Break,” which is about a heavy northwestern storm heading towards The Netherlands and Belgium and threatening to break dikes and flood the lower areas of the two countries, including the response of the Dutch government.

You can see the trailer here.

This article took me quite some time to write, as I didn’t want to turn it into an entire climate change article, but I did want to mention the possibilities of the rising sea level, mainly because my country, Miami, and other places are at stake.