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Sea Level Rise - Sea level rise in Guyana classroom resources



Through the video students are introduced to the dangers of sea level rise and flooding in Georgetown, Guyana.

Key Issues

- The causes of sea level rise
- The effect of sea level rise in LEDCs
- Flooding both from sea level rise and changes to precipitation patterns
- The vulnerability of people to environmental change in different places
- Sea defences, hard engineering or managed retreat
- Over-population in, and over reliance on, coastal areas


Sea level rise is a particularly large threat to the coastline of Guyana as much of the coastal strip is already below sea level. Some areas are already up to 2.4m below current sea level, so any further rises could be disastrous. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that the vast majority of the country live on this belt of alluvial soil which is protected by a series of dams and dykes. These defences were originally built by Dutch colonisers between 1860 and 1882. As the majority of the rest of the country is dense forest the coastal area is also of huge economic importance. Agriculture is a vital industry accounting for over a third of employment and the main export crops, sugar and rice, are almost exclusively grown in the coastal area. Maintaining the sea defences is extremely expensive with some sources indicating that Guyana spends over $1billion every year on maintenance.



Starter Activities

  Using this photograph to create a picture reveal ask the students what they think the lesson topic will be and what the picture tells them about the place in question.
  Use Google earth to give students a tour of Georgetown and the nearby coast getting them to identify human and physical features.


Enquiry Questions

- Why is the sea level rising and causing flooding in Georgetown, Guyana?
- Why do so many people live on the coast when it is prone to flooding?
- Is sea level rise the only climate change related impact affecting Georgetown? (Changing precipitation patterns are also causing river flooding).
- Is Guyana losing its battle against the sea?
- If you lived in Guyana would you want the president to spend increasing amounts of money on sea defences or start to relocate your capital city inland?

Lesson Activities

The video throws up a number of different issues and could be incorporated into a variety of main lesson activities. Here are a few examples:

  • Elect a President. Have different groups of students argue for different solutions. One group must argue for sea defences, one must argue for improvements to the pumping system and the final group must argue for relocation inlands. The President decides.
  • Write a diary entry for a resident of Georgetown in 2110.  How will the city have changed in 100 years?  What strategies will people have put in place to adapt to changing sea levels?  Or will all the houses simply be on stilts?
  • Use the Worksheets to explore how sea level rise impacts LEDCs and MEDCs differently.  How do each of these areas respond to climate change?


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