Irish scientists have warned that large areas of Ireland could disappear into the ocean with rising sea levels due to climate change.

In a global warming special on RTE’s environment series Eco Eye, experts warned about the catastrophic dangers of climate change, predicting significant coastal damage and the extinction of many plant and animal species, the Sunday World reports. 

“Climate change is a reality. It’s here. That’s something as a society we haven’t bought into. It will be a very difficult problem for Dublin, Cork, Galway and Belfast,” said Professor Robert Devoy, from the Coastal Marine Research Centre (CMRC).

“What is coming down the tracks is a significant warming of the planet. The last time it warmed of this order, 88 per cent of life on earth disappeared.

“Given the nature of politics being short-term, it’s the last thing on our politicians’ minds.  

“I have five grandchildren. Whatever time is left to me it doesn’t matter, but for them at the age of four and five I can see we have significant problems to solve,” said Devoy, one of Ireland’s leading experts on global warming. 

“We can’t wait any longer for reducing carbon emissions and making significant changes.”

He estimates that it will cost at least €5bn to protect Ireland’s largest cities and critical areas of the Irish coastline.

During the show, Eco Eye presenter Duncan Stewart travels to Iceland to show how melting glaciers due to climate change are contributing to a rise in sea levels.

Dr Barry Dwyer, as environmental scientist with the Coastal Marine Research Centre at the Irish Naval Headquarters, said that two percent of Dublin could be swallowed by the sea, along with more than three percent of northern counties.

“The big problem is storm surges that we have in Ireland with sea level rises, and then add another storm surge on top of that and that becomes a two-meter storm surge.

“In the more northerly counties we are looking at up to 3.5 per cent of the entire land area being inundated, and that doesn’t account for the big wash that would come off the storm surge and the destruction from that.”

Cathal O’Mahony, a Coastal research scientist with the CMRC, said: “We’ve concentrated a lot of things along our coastline. Be it our urban centers, our road or rail networks and even our leisure time.

“The strategy is really going to involve a lot of agencies working side by side. 

“No one organization is going to have the answer to climate change.

O’Mahony cautioned that certain areas of the coastline may have to be sacrificed.

“We need to make decisions on where perhaps we can defend and where we can retreat.”

Read more: Global warming map shows Sligo, Galway and Mayo underwater by 2100