Sweet irony: Pacific islands "growing, not sinking"

The game's up

I love it when a story like this comes along – I couldn’t have scripted it better myself. After the wailing and whinging from the Pacific islands at every climate conference about how “sea level rises” are going to sink their homes and that we need to transfer billions of dollars in climate aid, we discover that the islands are actually … increasing in size! The ABC is shocked, shocked I tell you, that yet another disaster in the waiting cannot be pinned on climate change any more:

Climate scientists have expressed surprise at findings that many low-lying Pacific islands are growing, not sinking.

Islands in Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Federated States of Micronesia are among those which have grown, largely due to coral debris, land reclamation and sediment.

The findings, published in the magazine New Scientist [ouch, I bet that hurt], were gathered by comparing changes to 27 Pacific islands over the last 20 to 60 years using historical aerial photos and satellite images.

Auckland University’s Associate Professor Paul Kench, a member of the team of scientists, says the results challenge the view that Pacific islands are sinking due to rising sea levels associated with climate change.

“Eighty per cent of the islands we’ve looked at have either remained about the same or, in fact, gotten larger,” he said.

“Some of those islands have gotten dramatically larger, by 20 or 30 per cent.

“We’ve now got evidence the physical foundations of these islands will still be there in 100 years.”

Dr Kench says the growth of the islands can keep pace with rising sea levels.

“The reason for this is these islands are so low lying that in extreme events waves crash straight over the top of them,” he said.

“In doing that they transport sediment from the beach or adjacent reef platform and they throw it onto the top of the island.”

Barry Brook, well known climate alarmist, is shocked, shocked, I tell you:

“Sea levels are obviously rising – I think in the short term [the study] suggests that there’s maybe more time to do something about the problem than we’d first anticipated,” he said.

“But the key problem is that sea level rise is likely to accelerate much beyond what we’ve seen in the 20th century.”

Ah yes – your flaky computer models tell you that I guess? Well, take a look at the actual sea level measurements for a change, and you will see that they doing nothing unusual whatsoever – rising by a few millimetres a year like they have since the end of the last Ice Age – despite the “global warming” we have apparently had for the last 150 years.

But the people of the Pacific islands are not likely to give up their “climate debt blank cheque” in a hurry, so they’re doing some quick work to sweep all this under the carpet:

Naomi Thirobaux, from Kiribati, has studied the shape of Pacific islands for her PhD and says no-one should be lulled into thinking erosion and inundation is not taking its toll and displacing people from their land.

“In a populated area what would happen was that if it’s eroding, a few metres would actually displace people,” she said.

“In a populated place people can’t move back or inland because there’s hardly any place to move into, so that’s quite dramatic.”

Both Dr Kench and Dr Brook and scientists agree further rises in sea levels pose a significant danger to the livelihoods of people living in Tuvalu, Kirabati and the Federated States of Micronesia.

Sorry – doesn’t wash any more. Go to the back of the queue.

Read it here.

Copenhagen: Nation with 0.0002% of global population brings negotiations to a halt


Perilously close to water…

All the talk has been of the tiny island nation of Tuvalu, most famous until this week for the .tv top level domain so favoured by TV stations across the globe. It has a population of just over 12,000 (in other words, two ten thousandths of one percent of the global population). But because it is less than 4.5 m above sea level, somehow it has become the poster child for climate change, because “rising sea levels caused by global warming” will flood the islands sooner than anywhere else.

Ironic, then, that sea levels have been rising at about 3 mm per year since the end of the last Ice Age, with no perceptible acceleration due to “global warming” – in fact possibly a slight slowing:

Clearly not accelerating…

Clearly not accelerating…

So at current rates, it will take about 1,500 years for the sea to rise 4.5 metres, so hardly a climate emergency that requires urgent action today at Copenhagen rather than in 100 or 200 or even 500 years time, when the costs of adaptation will be far less.

And furthermore, the islands are all coral atolls and reefs, notoriously unstable and most of which are known to be sinking into the sea anyway – that kind of sounds like a problem for them to deal with, rather than blackmailing the rest of the world.

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