South Pacific Island Evacuating Due to Global Warming

Sheryl CanterKiribatiIn March 2007, we blogged about the dire situation of the South Pacific islands Kiribati and Tuvalu. The sea is rising due to global warming, and two uninhabited islands nearby have already sunk. Now Kiribati is preparing for extinction:

The leader of the South Pacific island nation of Kiribati laid out an extraordinary plan Monday (Sept. 22) that would scatter his people through the nations of the world as rising sea levels submerge the islands they have called home for centuries.

Rising sea levels are submerging the land. Land not yet submerged is being rendered uninhabitable by salty ground water.

This post is by Sheryl Canter, an online writer and editorial manager at Environmental Defense Fund.

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  1. rfkmjk
    Posted October 14, 2008 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

    According to the best estimates of scientists the Earth has existed for some 5,000,000,000 years or so. Why would you think that the past 50 years is so unique. You are treating climate change as if it never has occurred in the past. I am very opened minded about using scientific date and trying to make correlations with that data. The problem I have is when scientists take a theory and quickly adopt it as fact, before it has been proven. Just as your Experts in the field of Climatology believe that a global warming process can be controlled by man. There are a group of Experts in the field of Climatology who do not support this theory. So who’s experts are correct?

    Now lets look at the most recent major climate change the “ Little Ice Age” from 1650 to 1850 AD separated by slight warming intervals. Was carbon dioxide (CO2) the culprit on this recent climate change. Remember this was the pre-industrial revolution period. So how do you explain such a drastic swing in climate temperatures. The Industrial period is currently blamed for man made global warming. From the beginning of time, I believe global cooling and global warming has been a natural occurrence. I became skeptical when I heard Al Gore, the spokesperson for man-made global warming, offer carbon offset credits for money!
    Keep an open mind, the Global climate of the Earth maybe more complex and influenced to a greater degree by such things as Solar Flairs, Changing magnetic field of the earth, wobble of the Earth, Planet alignment, etc.
    Thank you,
    Richard F. Klosiewicz

  2. kenzrw
    Posted October 14, 2008 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    Harvard news release:

    Part of this Harvard news release states:

    “Tong’s plan to relocate Kiribati’s 100,000 people was born, Tong said, out of the realization that he had to do something. IF SCIENTISTS ARE RIGHT (my emphasis) his nation is facing a humanitarian crisis and the world isn’t paying attention, he said. Kiribati residents have already seen unusual natural events that could be due to climate change, such as higher tides, coral bleaching, and a recent 12-month drought.”

    He’s talking about a scientific PREDICTION of losing the island and I saw nothing in the report that had any figures on exactly hot much the sea level rose thus far on this island. Don’t they know? I know that two small atolls have gone underwater, but does that fact in itself prove that the other 30 or so islands will also be underwater in the future?

  3. Posted October 15, 2008 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Richard – two things:

    1. The current warming we are seeing is caused by human activity. See this series that explains in much detail how we know this is true:

    How We Know Humans Cause Global Warming
    1. A 175-year-old Puzzle
    2. What Chemistry Tells Us
    3. Causes of Past Climate Change
    4. The Medieval Warming Period
    5. The Only Explanation Left

    2. Today there are 6 billion people on Earth, and a large percentage of them live in coastal areas. If we continue as we’re going, millions of people will be displaced and where will they go? We can’t just say “oh well” and let this happen. Wall Street would be under water, large parts of Florida would be under water.

  4. Posted October 15, 2008 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    kenzrw – the article about the evacuation doesn’t talk about the signs and problems already occurring on the island. There are puddles all over the place that look like what you’d see after a rain storm, but this water is coming up from the ground as the island sinks. Also, this water is salty, causing serious problems. Salty ground water kills plants and is undrinkable. The population has been forced back and back from the coastline, but the island is very narrow and soon there will be no place to move. As the president put it, soon they will be pushed into the sea.

    They aren’t taking this drastic step because of a theoretical problem for which they see no signs or evidence. That would be kind of crazy, wouldn’t it? The evidence is extremely salient and alarming.

  5. issuesmatter
    Posted October 16, 2008 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    I agree Richard. There are many reasons why the earth is warming and cooling so rapidly. Here’s just a surface answer. The earth for all it has been around has been hot or cold. The “little ice age” happened (if anyone will do deep, deep study) after a “little warm up”.

    These islands are not that old if you look at how old the earth is, so there for why should we care about these islands sinking? Islands are in process of being made EVERY DAY! Yes, I feel sorry for the people that live on them but, we are living in a normal process of life on earth. Sheryl, if you want to have it where all the conditions are PERFECT guess what,


  6. Posted October 16, 2008 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    issuesmatter – Geesh, that’s COLD. I guess you don’t care what land is destroyed as long as it’s not the piece you’re living on? Will you say the same to people who live in lower Manhattan (e.g. Wall Street) or southern Florida? Or does that not matter because probably it won’t happen in YOUR lifetime, but in the lifetimes of your children or grandchildren.

    The current excessive warming of the Earth is not caused by natural processes. It’s caused by human activity. We should care; we should act.

  7. issuesmatter
    Posted October 16, 2008 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    All I hear all the time is that “ITS OUR FAULT” why won’t anyone consider that maybe its not completely our fault. I do care about what these people are going through, living there their whole lives. And, I am sorry if that came off “cold” but I get a bit upset when people blame it completely on “us the people”. Just consider that it was going to warm up anyway but we just added to it. Yes, I agree that there is a bit of a problem with the earth and the warming.

    I just wish that someone would consider that its, “not completely our fault”.

  8. kenzrw
    Posted October 16, 2008 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    A couple of things. If I remember correctly, the IPCC said in thier 2007 assessment on climate that humans are causing about half of the warming, not all of it. Is this correct? I’ll have to read their report to find this for sure. Yes, the planet would be warming anyway, but not as fast. Is this also correct? Would we have a constant mean annual temperature on earth if we humans were not present?

    About sea level rise….I know the current estimate is about 3mm a year rise on average, is that correct? However, this sea level rise doesn’t occur equally worldwide, so those South Pacific islands may just be one of the locations where the sea is rising faster than other islands. See this article:

    “Tidal Cycle Could Amplify Global-warming Related Sea-level Rises – May 24, 2008 – ScienceDaily – Various studies
    The results of several scientific studies conducted since 1993 have confirmed a 3.2 cm sea level rise. Although this variation might appear negligible, it has in fact turned out to be twice as high as that recorded over the whole of the previous century. This increase in sea level is a consequence of global warming. When sea temperature rises, the sea expands and therefore occupies a greater volume. This phenomenon is now well known to scientists, but other processes that have received less research attention, such as the tidal cycle, seem to contribute at global scale just as much to changes in sea level.”

    That seems to say that not all sea level rise is being caused only by global warming, but various other forces come into play.

    Thanks for an interesting discussion….

  9. kenzrw
    Posted October 18, 2008 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Your statement:
    “The current excessive warming of the Earth is not caused by natural processes. It’s caused by human activity. We should care; we should act.”

    This is a better statement than just saying “humans are causing all the warming”, implying there are no natural forces at play at all. Yes, humans are causing the ‘excessive’ warming above and beyond the normal, natural warming which would have occurred anyway. If we keep saying that humans are bad for the planet and blame us on everything that goes on with weather, the public will just turn a deaf ear and nothing will change. They will feel hopeless.