Pacific island thought to be sinking is actually growing
"Save Tuvalu, save the world" was the battle cry at the 2015 climate conference in Peru. The prime minister of that tiny Pacific island nation begged the conference to keep his country from "disappearing."
Enele Spoaga arrived in Brussels on Monday to call on [E.U.] leaders for support ahead of the next [U.N.] climate change summit in Paris in December.
The group of islands, home to just 10,000 people, is under direct threat by rising sea levels due to climate change as it is no more than 4m above sea level at its highest level.
"If this island disappears under water, it is not the end of climate change. And I ask you[:] what future do we hold? We need to collaborate as one human face to save humankind.
"We are told that even 2 degrees global warming is too dangerous as it would mean that Tuvalu would disappear under the water. Yes[,] we can move the Tuvalu inhabitants to other peoples' lands but it will not stop climate change."
Tuvalu is one of several island chains in the Pacific ... vulnerable to rising sea levels.
Heartrending, isn't it? The Paris Accords on climate change adopted a "climate mitigation" program that would have helped save Tuvalu from certain disaster.
But how "certain" is it? A study by the University of Auckland discovered that, far from "disappearing," the island atolls that make up the nation are actually growing.
A University of Auckland study examined changes in the geography of Tuvalu's nine atolls and 101 reef islands between 1971 and 2014, using aerial photographs and satellite imagery.
It found [that] eight of the atolls and almost three-quarters of the islands grew during the study period, lifting Tuvalu's total land area by 2.9 percent, even though sea levels in the country rose at twice the global average.
Co-author Paul Kench said the research, published Friday in the journal Nature Communications, challenged the assumption that low-lying island nations would be swamped as the sea rose.
"We tend to think of Pacific atolls as static landforms that will simply be inundated as sea levels rise, but there is growing evidence these islands are geologically dynamic and are constantly changing," he said.
"The study findings may seem counter-intuitive, given that (the) sea level has been rising in the region over the past half century, but the dominant mode of change over that time on Tuvalu has been expansion, not erosion."
It found [that] factors such as wave patterns and sediment dumped by storms could offset the erosion caused by rising water levels.
The Auckland team says climate change remains one of the major threats to low-lying island nations.
But it argues [that] the study should prompt a rethink on how such countries respond to the problem.
Rather than accepting [that] their homes are doomed and looking to migrate to countries such as Australia and New Zealand, the researchers say they should start planning for a long-term future.
"On the basis of this research we project a markedly different trajectory for Tuvalu's islands over the next century [from what] is commonly envisaged," Kench said.
In the immortal words of Emily Litella, "never mind."
This must be one of the most embarrassing revelations about the lack of catastrophic climate change in history – right up there with the claim that Himalayan glaciers were disappearing while the truth was that they are growing. What's even more remarkable is that the study concludes that the island nation is on a "markedly different trajectory" for the next century!
The U.N.'s climate mitigation program envisions tens of billions of dollars given to poor countries to help them deal with global warming. Tuvalu was set to receive funds to move its entire population once the people were in danger from their "sinking" island. Perhaps the whole climate mitigation regime should be re-examined. But it won't be. That's because the program is not meant to really assist countries who are economically affected by global warming. It is a transfer of wealth scheme from the First World to the Third World – Robin Hood disguised as the climate change ogre.
We should be happy for the citizens of Tuvalu, who are going to be safe for the next century.