By Tuan Nguyen
Posting in Cities
The Republic of Kiribati may be the first nation forced to evacuate due to climate change.
As the world gets warmer and with waves encroaching ever closer, an entire island nation is on the verge of vanishing beneath rapidly rising sea levels. And pretty soon, an unprecedented mass exodus is set to begin.
While the scenario sounds a lot like the plot from some preachy doomsday movie, it's actually an extremely dire situation facing the people of Kiribati, a republic located along a chain of islands that stretch across the central Pacific.
For the past few years, Anote Tong, the country's president, has been working feverishly to secure a new home for his citizens. His last-ditch effort to save the people involves purchasing roughly 5,000 acres of land on Vanua Levu, a neighboring island that belongs to the nation of Fiji. As of now, most of the population, which totals 113,000 people, have sought refuge near the Capital in Tarawa, an atoll or a chain of raised coral islets that resembles a horseshoe surrounding a lagoon.
"This is the last resort, there's no way out of this one," Mr Tong told the Telegraph. "Our people will have to move as the tides have reached our homes and villages."
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Previously, President Tong had considered a number of high-tech solutions. There was a plan in place to relocate the population to man-made islands that were comparable to living quarters found on oil rigs. The idea of building giant sea walls to block out the tide was also floated, but ultimately deemed to costly. He eventually settled on a somewhat less drastic course of action that involves a careful migration pattern, starting with a wave of productive workers to initially contribute and build good relations with the native people of Fiji. In an effort to improve their prospects for acceptance as productive members of society, he's even created an Education for Migration program for locals to upgrade their skills.
Kiribati is comprised of 32 islands and one raised atoll spread out over 1.3 million square miles. Of the combined land mass, much of it sits about 2 meters above sea level and is expected to be submerged by 2030. New Scientists reports that the effects of climate change has caused devastating droughts, the loss of coconut trees, drinking water shortages due to the flow of saltwater into drinking wells, according to New Scientist.
Islands located in this particular region of the Pacific are especially vulnerable to rising sea levels, as Stanford University climatologist Stephen H. Schneider explains in a Washington Post report:
Stanford University climatologist Stephen H. Schneider, who is helping oversee a major international assessment of how climate change could expose humans and the environment to new vulnerabilities, said countries respond differently to the global warming issue in part because they are affected differently by it. The small island nation of Kiribati is made up of 33 small atolls, none of which is more than 6.5 feet above the South Pacific, and it is only a matter of time before the entire country is submerged by the rising sea.
"For Kiribati, the tipping point has already occurred," Schneider said. "As far as they're concerned, it's tipped, but they have no economic clout in the world."
"For those who believe climate change is about some distant future, I invite them to Kiribati. Climate change is not about tomorrow. It is lapping at our feet – quite literally in Kiribati and elsewhere," said United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon in a speech last week.
A world in the balance:
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Mar 13, 2012
It is currently "estimated" that sea level change is about 0.3 mm/year - or about 1.5 inches/100 years - for all of the scientifically illiterate Americans and the author. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_level#Sea_level_change) Considering land subsidence, tectonic upthrust, and various astronomical forces that affect gravity, tides and the shape of the earth - it would be a pretty safe bet that no one is capable of measuring changes that small - even with satellites. Especially considering there are no accurate fixed bench marks from 100 years ago. So, as usual you have to follow the money. Kiribati is an international economic basket case, while it may be suffering from subsidence and more active evaporative cooling cycles - storms, global warming isn't likely raising sea levels on them significantly. Like most of these "countries" their main cash flow is from international aid. I'm sure they have an entire brigade of foreign aid grant application writers. That is the basis of this regurgitated press release - foreign aid publicity and not sea level rise.
While I don't doubt Global Warming as a result of human culture is real, and that island nations like this one will indeed likely be submerged within the next century due to the melting of glaciers, according to Wikipedia, average sea level has risen only 2 inches from 1993 to 2009. That hardly seems like enough to be the cause of this people's woes. I think some of the other posters here are correct when they point to the causes being other things, albeit no less as a result of human development. It's articles like these that give those that would deny climate change ammunition. Oh, and another thing. You should have at least put the work "sink" in the headlines in quotes, unless the foundation of the island is indeed sinking. It's quite misleading. I assume that the proposition here (no matter how faulty) is that all the problems are supposedly due to higher sea levels and not "lower ground".
I am glad to see the questioning of the presumed facts. The islands are sinking. All sea level measurements show a slow small annual rise over the last 100 years or so. This story came out and was debunked more than a year ago.It find it rediculus that smart(apparently not so smart) planet would re-cycle without even checking it out. How gullible are you?
The government of Kiribati knows their islands are not sinking. They just want you to not notice the real problems. Like salt water incursion into fresh water wells because coral mining to build resorts has cracked the islands foundations and allowed the ocean into rock that previously trapped only rain water. Or that they have developed the islands beyond the capacity to sustain them with food and water. Or that they are literally burying themselves under a growing pile of garbage generated by the resorts that have been built there. Or the dying coral and reduced fish populations around the islands caused by the runoff of excess fertilizer used to keep those lush lawns green at the resorts. Or the fact that uncontrolled immigration between 1995 and 2000 grossly over populated South Tarawa island to the point it can barely sustain its self today. Or that the construction of a causeway between Betio and Bairiki islands directly lead to a change in local currents that submerged the tiny islands of Bikeman and Abanuea during the 1990s. But then again, this is a global warming issue. So facts do not matter.
...since the end of the last ice age. How did these islanders survive before we allegedly screwed things up?
and I see no evidence of actual rising sea levels. So how much land has actually been lost? And how much to erosion? From Wikipedia: The economy of Kiribati benefits from international development assistance programs. Sounds about right to me.
What will you be saying in 10 or 20 years when the things climate scientists say will happen continue to happen? Will you still be an ostrich burying your head in the sand?
The satellite-measured average rate of SLR is about 3.3 +/- 0.4 mm per year from 1993 to 2009. Satellites can easily measure changes of 0.1 mm in sea level. The rate of SLR is increasing and the total rise in 2100 is expected to be between 1 and 2 meters.
@dduggerbiocepts -- Your Wikipedia reference states that, "For at least the last 100 years, sea level has been rising at an average rate of about 1.8 mm per year." This equates to a little over 0.07 inches per year. That gives a 7 inch rise over the last century, easily measurable -- no satellites needed.
dduggerbiocepts, Although the sea levels on average rise on average .3 mm a year (as you stated), that figure doesn't tell the whole story. The rate of rising sea levels actually varies by region due to other factors such as changing winds, ocean currents and the gravitational pull of polar ice sheets. In fact, in some regions sea level is falling. For instance, data from weatherunderground.com shows that the surrounding sea level in Tuvalu is rising at an alarming rate of rise of 5.7 mm per year. As far as Kiribati is concerned, they have a reason to be worried. At the turn of the century two of their uninhabited islets (Tebua Tarawa and Abanuea) had been covered by the sea. I updated the article to reflect the fact that rising sea levels impacts different regions in different ways. - Tuan
Whether it's global warming or not, you can't blame the islands' inhabitants like you do. Nearly all the problems that you stated are things that happen all over the world. So IMHO it would be a bit hypocrite to say that they're ruining there surrounding when in fact the whole world is doing the same (or at least the developed countries)... I suggest we look at ourselves first...
There are a number of ways one can determine sea level rise and if this island is eroding away or not. I'm sure the professionals are smart enough to determine the difference.
Riverat, I can't believe that you haven't noticed a sea change (sorry about the pun) in the proportion of people now reponding in the negative to smartplanet articles about global warming-related issues, compared with a year or so ago when you and I first did battle. The tide is turning (sorry about the pun again) mate, and, as the planet cools, and we descend through the 30 year downward swing of the entirely natural Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, just as I and others predicted it would, the whole fabric of CO2 warmism pseudo-science is crumbling. Do you realise that you are the ONLY commenter here so far to be banging on with your now yjoroughly discredited climate change mantra? Give up! Join the rest of us in the real world and enjoy its continuing beauty.
The reason sea level changes are recorded in so many areas is because of a multitude of local geology related matters. A lone neighborhood in Norfolk VA is flooding more frequently because of subsidence in an area formerly wet lands that was backfilled in the 1860s. 14 inches of sinking adjacent to water tends to cause flooding. Plum Island in MA is showing heavy signs of erosion from tidal currents. Again. Anyone who knows the history of the area knows that more than half the island was washed away in a series of storms at the turn of the 20th century. Massive dredging rebuilt the island after a retaining wall was built to save the remaining area. The wall remains buried partway through the island to this day. You also have much of Finland, Norway and Iceland showing drops in sea level because of glacial rebound causing the crust to rise. On the other hand you have slight increases in sea level in Florida because glacial sag. Think of North America as a large flat balloon. Glaciers pressing down on the northern end caused a popup effect on the southern end. With the glaciers gone you see rebound in the north and sagging in the south. That brings up my earlier question. With all of these regional geography changes happening, and thousands of others not so in your face, what is the benchmark for satellites to determine a change in sea level?
- - At the turn of the century two of their uninhabited islets (Tebua Tarawa and Abanuea) had been covered by the sea. - - The construction of a causeway between Betio and Bairiki islands in the 1980s directly lead to a change in local currents that submerged the tiny islands of Bikeman and Abanuea during the 1990s. In a nut shell the causeway caused a change in local tides by altering the flow of water in the area. A common event when building causeways. Mainly through erosion, the low lying islands vanished. They were uninhabited because they hardly existed at all at high tide. They were doomed by the current change. This was not a global warming related event. Manmade disaster? Yes Also, if you understood anything about how these islands were formed in the first place you would know that mother nature has an expiration date on them the moment they are formed. They are fragile islands by natures own design. Mans over development of them can only hasten their natural demise.
If you neighbor punches holes on the roof of his house shooting off fireworks is it your responsibility to fix his roof when his kids are getting rained on? They poisoned their freshwater wells by blasting out coral to build resorts and fracturing the rock that kept out the sea water. How is that my fault? Here is another great example of your flawed thinking. Residents of a coastal neighborhood in Norfolk VA are blaming global warming for their homes flooding during storms. The real cause is they bought homes built on land filled by dredging in the 1860s. In the 1860s they knew better to leave the land as a farm. Homes built there in the 1920s have flooded almost since the year they were built. The frequency of flooding increased because the land has settled over 14 inches since back filled over 100 years ago. Yet the new generation of global warming whiners who now own the homes want taxpayers to fund more back filling and a seawall because in their selfish eyes the flooding is caused by global warming. You are welcome to foot that bill, but I refuse to pay it.
Hates Idiots, More ROTFLMAO moments. The main stream media presents a false balance when it comes to global warming/climate change. You just think they're promoting global warming because of your viewpoint. From my view point they're mostly doing everything they can to avoid the subject in order to not offend some of their big advertisers. The first use of the term "climate change" that I'm aware of occurred in a late 1950's paper. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was so named in 1988. Climate change is not a new term. Frank Luntz advised George W. Bush the use the term rather than global warming because it was less scarey sounding. Global warming is merely a subset of climate change. [i]"And as far as data manipulation and fraud goes. Look no further than East Anglia where they admitted to altering tree ring data in a counter study to shoot down a satellite data based study that concluded temps had fallen over the last 10 years. Not risen. They admitted to communicating the lies among a broad community of allied scientists in a coordinated effort to -quote - destroy and discredit- anyone who dared challenge them."[/i] Have you got a cite for your claim that they altered tree ring data to shoot down satellite data? How about at least a cite for the satellite data that concluded temps had fallen over the last 10 years? I'm not aware of anything like that even from Roy Spencer. It sounds to me like you've been drinking the "Climategate" koolaid,taking a bunch of quote mined out of context comments and reading something into them that isn't there.
- - The Rasmussen poll is meaningless. If 69% of the public think it's likely that scientists have falsified climate research that just shows the power of media to present a false message. - - Most of the main stream media still supports the idea of global warming. All you have to do is look at the movies out of Hollywood recently to see the scramble to continue the message. The Lorax is a great example of the propaganda aimed at our children by the sympathetic media. So the Rassmussen poll is interesting in that it shows the attitude of the American people is moving AGAINST the tide of media support for global warming. The simple marketing shift to calling global warming now climate change is an acknowledgment by the global warming crowd that the masses are starting to see through the global warming BS. People naturally get suspicious when every global warming story ends with someone with their hand stuck out looking for money because only they know how to fix things. And as far as data manipulation and fraud goes. Look no further than East Anglia where they admitted to altering tree ring data in a counter study to shoot down a satellite data based study that concluded temps had fallen over the last 10 years. Not risen. They admitted to communicating the lies among a broad community of allied scientists in a coordinated effort to -quote - destroy and discredit- anyone who dared challenge them.
cosserat says I should give up my belief that climate scientists know what they're talking about because he, John McGrew and Hates Idiots among others tell me I'm wrong on SmartPlanet. Riiiight. I'll stick with the guys who are actually doing the work. With the number of scientists around the world studying the Earth's climate any real fraud would be rooted out in short order. I just find it incredible to think that all of those climate scientists would conspire together over the last 50+ years to knowingly present a false picture for political reasons when they know that the real picture will be found eventually destroying their scientific reputations. Most of them are just too smart to do that to themselves. If they're wrong then they're honestly wrong. HI, your Plos One cite is interesting but it says nothing about climate science specifically and says it appears research malfeasance is more prevalent in medical research than other fields. Let's see some actual evidence rather than innuendo. The Rasmussen poll is meaningless. If 69% of the public think it's likely that scientists have falsified climate research that just shows the power of media to present a false message. If you think there has been falsification of data then present some actual scientific evidence for that. I haven't seen it yet. Certainly time will tell who is right. I'm pretty confident that the overwhelming majority of climate scientists who say human influences are a major factor in global warming are right.
The lemmings that followed the global warming piper have turned a deaf ear to the sour tune as supposed facts have been proven to be no more than manipulated data. The growing number of climate gate like incidents covering all fields of science is getting to be difficult to hide. A 2009 survey of thousands of scientists found over 1 percent admitted falsifying data. Over 30 percent of scientists admitted to using questionable research practices. In surveys asking about their peers a shocking 14 percent of scientists were known to be falsifying data. 72 percent using questionable research practices. http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0005738 A recent poll says such incidents are feeding a growing distrust of global warming science. http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/environment_energy/69_say_it_s_likely_scientists_have_falsified_global_warming_research Anyone who has followed my complaints about global warming knows that faulty data collection methods and outright manipulation and falsification of data have been my biggest complaints. The echoes of truth have been drifting on the winds for years, but only a few could hear it over the pipers noise.
At least we agree there. Isn't now. Wasn't then either, when we were told the "science was settled" and it was time to start doling out checks.
Oh, cosserat, So I should just go with the crowd because of the proportion of people on SmartPlanet who deny global warming? Yeah, that's real scientific. I prefer to listen to the real scientists who are active in the field to form my opinion on scientific subjects. Here is the graph you presented to SmartPlanet readers to back up your position: http://www.thetruthaboutclimatechange.org/tempsworld.html Where is the downward trend in your graph for the past decade? When is this downward trend going to start? The ups and downs of your 11 year mean may track well with the AMO but the long term trend is still upward. Otherwise the low of the AMO in the 1970's would have matched the low in the 1910's. When is that upward trend going to reverse? I enjoy the beauty of the world immensely and hope to help keep it that way. In a couple of weeks I'll start a 3 week trip rowing down the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. I expect it to be an intensely awesome experience. I think it's you who needs to join the real world. The physics is on my side.
... folks were asking for government help for things like seawalls and flood prevention. If there were no global warming they'd still be asking for the help.