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DRASTIC ACTION NEEDED TO SAVE ISLAND STATES - TUVALU AND KIRIBATI NOW IN SERIOUS TROUBLE

 article about DRASTIC ACTION NEEDED TO SAVE ISLAND STATES - TUVALU AND KIRIBATI NOW IN SERIOUS TROUBLE

This article belongs to And That's the Way It Is column.


It was rather interesting to see the conclusions that were reached, or the lack thereof, at the UN Copenhagen Climate Change Conference. There appeared to be plenty of waffle but very little action.

The final communique, which states that the world will aim for a 'not above 2c' rise in temperatures might well setting off alarm bells in small, low-altitude island nations in the Pacific as well as the Caribbean.

The initially most vulnerable nations would have to be Tuvalu and Kiribati which are located well east of Australia. Both countries have predicted that, if current warming trends continue, they will no longer exist within 50 years but one can conclude that with a 2c temperature rise, the time frame can be scaled back to 30 years or even less.

The problems of these two very small countries are multiple.

Their water storage supplies are threatened by incoming sea water
"
Both Tuvalu and Kiribati have predicted that, if current warming trends continue, they will no longer exist within 50 years
during cyclones and king-tides.

Their habitable areas in terms of food crops are diminished due to the rising salt-water tables and the majority of these two countries are highly vulnerable to rough seas situations.

Studies recently conducted in Europe show some solutions most of which are either untried or economically very expensive. While not desirable in a cultural sense, the most viable solution will be for the local population to abandon the two countries and to live elsewhere either in Australia or New Zealand.

Another solution would be to build-up defences against rising tides and flooding.

The Dutch have been doing this for decades and while technically viable, such solutions are expensive. It includes the construction of dikes around water supplies and other infrastructure, the building up of facilities such as airports as well as the bringing in of desalination plants.

Food production would have to be isolated from the rising salt water table.

All of these solutions are very expensive but can technically be done.

The situation in the Caribbean, although slightly different in terms of topographical conditions, would be similar. Food production in low altitude regions is likely to decrease while encroaching sea levels and salt water table will make habitation of some of the islands and atolls no longer viable.

Again solutions as to alleviate and/or delay having to abandon these places are available but they would be well beyond the capacity of these countries in terms of being able to pay for them.

In all, with a 2c temperature increase the situation for small island nations does not look bright as things stand today and, in my view, some major and drastic action is required in order to, at least for the time being, maintain habitation of these places wherever possible.

And as sad as things may look,

My name is Henk Luf.
And That's the Way it is.


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