Update:Marshall Islands are Doomed

Back in July, I had a post that was called, “The Marshall Islands are Doomed“. I would like to update that post. Let’s add the Solomons  Islands to the doomed list.

As stated in this article, “…Islands are becoming uninhabitable as the sea level slowly rises, forcing people to relocate. Thousands will be affected in the Solomons Islands alone and the government has no firm plans yet for what to do with them. A tranquil lagoon in Malaita, Lunga Lunga is sprinkled with islands but they are not the typical tropical variety. These precarious mounds of coral, with pole houses perched on the water’s edge, are artificial islands. Across Malaita province, tens of thousands of people live like this.”

“Those islands are greatly affected because salt water comes right up in the middle of the island, so it affects the root crops,” says Alick Maeaba, Deputy Premier of Malaita provincial government.

“That’s one of the major problems they’ve encountered. So it will continue to grow worse in the near future.” Australia’s Pacific Climate Change Science Program estimates the sea is rising in the Solomons by about eight millimetres a year. That is almost three times the global average. Locals say sea temperature rises have driven away the fish, their main source of protein.”

Once again this is not a future event but is happening now.

In another part of the world, the Maldives are doomed. “At the Maldives National Meteorological Center, Deputy Director Ali Shareef says: “There is no doubt climate change is having an effect here in the Maldives. Nowadays, we find severe weather events two to three times a year but a decade ago they might only happen once every year or two.”

“Bigger ocean swells are driving waves right over the islands, he says, contaminating with salt the thin lenses of fresh groundwater beneath, while thunderstorms are causing flash-flooding and knocking out power systems. The waves also drive erosion of the islands, accelerating a natural process that can shift an island over 30 meters (98 feet) in a decade.”

“Eighty to 90 percent of the inhabited islands see some erosion and these freak weather events are becoming more common,” says Shiham Adam, general director at the Marine Research Center. The degradation of the coral, the key breakwater of the ocean’s energy, further exacerbates the problem.”

The island nations are trying to fight back. “Earlier this month, however, de Brum’s country (Republic of Marshall Islands) played host to the Pacific Islands Forum, where Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell led the American delegation. Climate change was the topic of choice and in the end, the countries present agreed to a document known as theMajuro Declaration for Climate Leadership. Representatives of both the United States and European Union signed on to the non-binding agreement, a fact that de Brum frequently points to as a sign for optimism.”

This month in New York, “The meeting is among the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and their supporters, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. Given their stature on the world stage, it’s one of the few places where their numbers actually matter and their vote counts exactly the same as the United States and other major powers. Gathered together over plates of eggs, diplomats from such states as Barbados and Nauru are discussing how to draw attention to their upcoming meeting on the island of Samoa next year, the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States. All thirty-eight of the members are under threat of becoming a modern day Atlantis, their homes consumed by the rising seas.”

What about plan B? “And let me tell you, displacement of people in our part of the world is terminal. You know, you lose your sovereignty, you lose your language, you lose your tradition, you lose you. That we cannot — that is so repugnant to islanders….But it is still — a responsible leader must keep it in mind.” As the minister points out to me, Kiribati is investing in land in Fiji in the event they need to move. “That’s not a bad thing,” he says, “But myself, I sometimes feel that that might make people a little bit less vigilant and less proactive in trying to make sure that move doesn’t happen.”

One island nation is trying to do their part. “Tokelau (population: 1,500) is an island nation in the South Pacific, made up of three atolls whose highest point is only five meters above sea level. Even though the New Zealand protectorate’s contribution to climate change is miniscule, it faces grave threats to its very existence. In 2011, at the Durban Climate conference, Foua Toloa, the head of Tokelau, said the island would be using 100 percent renewable energy by 2012. By October of that year residents accomplished their goal, becoming the first country in the world to produce 100 percent of its electricity from the sun.”

Finally let’s look at one our states and the effects of rising seas on it. “Researchers from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources recently published a paper showing that sea-level rise is a primary factor driving historical shoreline changes in Hawaiʻi and that historical rates of shoreline change are about two orders of magnitude greater than sea-level rise.” You can read about it in the Hawaii Star.
“A man from one of the lowest-lying nations on Earth is trying to convince New Zealand judges that he is a refugee – suffering not from persecution, but from climate change.”
“The man said that in about 1998, king tides began regularly breaching the sea walls around his village, which was overcrowded and had no sewerage system. He said the fouled drinking water would make people vomit, and that there was no higher ground that would allow villagers to escape the knee-deep water.”
Bill Hodge, a constitutional law expert and associate professor at the University of Auckland, said he applauded Kidd’s “ingenious arguments” but didn’t think they would succeed because his client hasn’t been singled out and victimised due to something like his gender, race or political persuasion.

But Hodge added that even if the Kiribati man loses, his case might make a good argument for expanding the definition of what constitutes a refugee. He said he expected there would be increasing pressure on nations such as New Zealand and Australia to help provide new homes for Pacific islanders threatened by rising seas.”

You can read the full story in the Guardian.

2 thoughts on “Update:Marshall Islands are Doomed

  1. If Tokelau can do it, we should be able to DO SOMETHING!! They put us to shame… Thanks for the stories and research.

  2. One Last Post, Because It’s Important! – greenbirdingmendo

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