Dramatic Climate Change on Tuvalu? Doesn't Appear So

The residents of Tuvalu -- a small island nation in the South Pacific about 700 miles north of Fiji and 860 miles northwest of American Samoa -- continue to plead their case as the victims of anthropogenic climate change. As I have discussed before, Tuvalu is a member of the Small Island Developing States who have been pressuring the United Nations "for enhanced measures to be taken on combating climate change, especially in speeding up the availability of funds for poorer nations to adapt to global warming."

In a recent opinion piece from the Guardian, a resident of Tuvalu describes his efforts at lobbying Australian politicians to take action against climate change in order to save his island state. Some claims are made that require further scrutiny, such as this one:

"Our people continue to experience the dramatic effects of climate change on our islands. Our traditional root crops, such as pulaka and taro, are gradually dying because of sea water intrusion and frequent droughts... We do not need any scientific explanation to tell us that we have a problem."

Reliable climate data for Tuvalu appears hard to come by. If we follow the links from the World Meteorological Organization's list of National Meteorological or Hydrometeorological Services of Members, and then click on the link for Tuvalu's Met Service, we arrive at a rather unpromising web page. Clicking on the "Tuvalu Climate Data" link from this page leads us to a very short description of Tuvalu's general climatic characteristics. No data is provided. The current surface weather chart for the island nation is hand-drawn.

The best proxy data for Tuvalu appears to come from nearby American Samoa, where NOAA maintains online climate records dating back to the late 1950s. There are absolutely no significant trends in monthly or annual precipitation since the 1970s or 1990s, nor are there any monthly or annual trends in temperatures over the past quarter-century.

These non-trend results for the region around Tuvalu aren't surprising, since Queensland on the northeastern tip of Australia closest to Tuvalu hasn't seen a trend in annual precipitation since records began in 1900, and certainly no trends since 1970 or 1990. Nor has Queensland seen any significant trends in summer, autumn, winter, or spring precipitation since 1900, 1970, or 1990, either. And Queensland's annual, summer, autumn, winter, or spring temperatures do not exhibit a significant trend over the past quarter-century.

In sum, there is a remarkable absence of changing climate in this area of the South Pacific over the past several decades, and no evidence for the "dramatic effects" claimed by some residents of Tuvalu. Rather than believing they "do not need any scientific explanation to tell us that we have a problem," such countries seeking to impose high-cost climate change mitigation policies on the rich developed nations -- as well as their continual requests for climate change reparations and climate refugee status -- should be required to provide the highest levels of scientific proof to support their extravagant claims.

To date, they have failed to meet this standard, and their demands should be dismissed accordingly.