is tuvalu in danger?

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    leaping avenger posted the article

    Pacific Magazine, February 2002

    Is Tuvalu Really Sinking?

    By Dr Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon

    A few observations.

    -Baliunus and Soon state "As it turns out, estimates of globally averaged sea level rise in the 20th century are irrelevant since Tuvalu's local sea level change is very different from the globally averaged change." No explaination of this claim is given, eg effects from tectonic plate shifts.

    -the argument presented is that varying sea levels are a natural phenomenon and that Tuvalu has suffered no rise in sea level. They then give numerous examples of troughs following peaks(sea level falls), and no examples of peaks following troughs(sea level rises) From measurements taken since 1978. From the examples given, the researchers validly claim " All these measurements show that Tuvalu has suffered, at worst, no sea level rise. So much for Brown's sense of sea level trends for Tuvalu."

    -No graph of sea levels for the 100 years was shown, which indicates a trend for rising sea levels. Instead, they give the quote"The overall trend discerned from the tide gauge data, according to Wolfgang Scherer, Director of Australia's National Tidal Facility, remains flat. "One definitive statement we can make," states Scherer, "is that there is no indication based on observations that sea level rise is accelerating." ". Note that this does not contradict the claim that sea levels are rising.

    -Lester Brown's claim of an 8-12 inch rise in sea level over 100 years is not disputed. Instead, a character assasination exercise is undertaken.

    -The point is made that environmental damage is occuring on Tuvalu as a result of development. Presumably this relates to the product of population size and average consumption being unsustainable. Had the researchers thought a little more about this, Tuvalu's situation might have become a lot clearer, as I will explain shortly.

    -Criticism of alarmist western environmentalists by residents is quoted, claiming that they are damaging to Tuvalu. However, no mention is made for the mechanism of this damage. Presumably the alarmist comments are damaging to tourism and development. But if development and population stress are the cause of Tuvalu's environmental problems, then isn't that a good thing?

    -There were no quotes from residents concerned by the potential of climate change to destroy Tuvalu.

    -There was no discussion of the potential damage that would result from climate change.

    If this report had merit it would have been bandied about the mianstream press widely. Because of its flawed reasoning and shameless bias(unsurprisingly not noticed by leaping avenger or dave r), it has received little publicity. But maybe there is another reason.

    Consider this passage

    "Man-Made Problems
    That said, there are some local problems that have changed the coastline of Tuvalu and mimic sea level rise. Sand is excavated for building material on Tuvalu. The excavation for building material has eroded the beach, thus giving the impression of rising sea to the casual observer. "The island is full of holes and seawater is coming through these, flooding areas that weren't normally flooded 10 or 15 years ago," according to Tuvalu environmental official, Paani Laupepa."

    Doesn't this ring an alarm bell? To me it sounds like overpumping of fresh groundwater resulting in reversal of the seaward flow, resulting in salination. The Tuvalu islands have an area of 23.96 square km and a population of 12,000. In 1985 the population was 8229. Combine the population increase with development and you have a potentially lethal combination. Is it any wonder that the government wants to use man-made climate change as a convenient scapegoat, and perhaps even a means of gaining compensation?

    The sad thing is that the greenies would have had a powerful case had they followed this line rather than the uncertain case for man-made climate change. But political correctness prevents them. The US must always take the blame, and overpopulation as a cause of environmental degradation is taboo, especially where indigenous residents are concerned. But it has happened. Easter Island, for example. Large uninhabited island. People arrive and multiply. Develop elaborate culture which includes the production of huge sculptures of chiefs. Population becomes unsustainable. Resources deplete rapidly. Trees all cleared. Resource situation becomes critical. War breaks out. Population declines rapidly. Survivors live a degraded existence on a degraded island. Became known to Europe after discovery by Roggeveen in 1722. Subsequently many theories of the statues by the ecologically impaired, including giants and space visitors.

    So why didn't Baliunus and Soon look into this further. My contention is that they were more concerned with attacking the greens than with the wellfare of the good people of Tuvalu.

    Silence an denial, leaping avenger. Silence and denial. Though you should be careful about knocking the global climate change story, man-made or otherwise. It might come in really handy for explaining Australia's looming water shortage to the masses, mightn't it? It is already doing the rounds in Perth I believe. With 55 gigalitres of water per annum on top of existing water use required to service the increase in population, some good excuses will be needed soon. I'd stick with natural climate change. That takes all of the guilt away.


    You might be interested in the following article. It would appear that Paani Laupepa's views were only quoted when they agreed with the intent of Baliunus and Soon.

    Few listen as tiny island of Tuvalu fears destruction from global warming

    Wednesday, August 28, 2002
    By Ravi Nessman, Associated Press

    JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — The tiny island nation of Tuvalu sees the issue of global warming as a matter of life and death. Few at the U.N. development summit seem to care.
    The United States does not want the gathering to commit to specific pollution controls. The world's developing nations — many of them major oil producers — have little interest in helping a nation of 12,000 people that fears it will be crushed by storms, rising ocean levels and disruptions to marine life.

    "If this issue of climate change is ignored, what will happen to Tuvalu?" said Paani Laupepa, Tuvalu's assistant secretary of the environment.

    Tuvalu comprises nine low-lying coral atolls in the Pacific Ocean between Australia and Hawaii whose highest point is just 5 meters (15 feet) above sea level. Studies suggest the global sea level has risen about 19.8 centimeters (7.8 inches) over the past 100 years, and some experts say the rate is increasing.

    "Tuvalu is flat. As flat as a pancake," Laupepa said. "We are at the front line of climate change."

    In March, the country's prime minister appealed to Australia and New Zealand to provide homes for his people if his country is washed away. But at what is expected to be the world's largest U.N. gathering, the country is being ignored.

    Contentious negotiations over the conference's action plan have mainly involved three groups: the European Union, a coalition of industrialized nations including Japan and the United States, and the G-77 group of developing nations.

    Tuvalu is a member of none of these.

    When Tuvalu's representative raises his hand in heated negotiating meetings, he is never called on, some officials say. His contributions to the climate change debate are brushed aside.

    "The nations with the most at risk should be the ones that are the most heard," said Jennifer Morgan, of the World Wildlife Fund.

    The issue of global warming, which was so central to negotiations at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, is barely present here.

    At the earlier summit, 170 nations agreed to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels.

    The 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which is strongly supported by Europe, seeks to codify the Rio pledges and make emissions reductions binding. But the United States has rejected the protocol and strongly opposes any explicit mention of Kyoto in this summit's action plan.

    "We would prefer it to refer to a global effort without a specific reference to the Kyoto protocol that would respect those that are pursuing Kyoto as well as those producing other strategies," a senior official with the U.S. delegation said.

    The United States and other oil-producing countries also have proposed watering down timetables for expanding the world's use of renewable energy. Many experts believe that fossil fuels and other nonrenewable energy sources contribute to global warming.

    Tuvalu worries that global warming is causing more deadly cyclones at odd times of the year. It is changing its seasons, throwing off the island's agricultural schedule and damaging the marine ecosystem that many depend on for their livelihoods.

    Many of Tuvalu's climate change concerns are shared by fellow members of the 43-nation Alliance of Small Island States, which includes nations as diverse as Cuba and Mauritius.

    "Climate change continues to be a highly underrated issue," said Tuitoma Neroni Slade, Samoa's ambassador to the United Nations and the chair of the island alliance. "Everybody that should be backing Kyoto is stepping back."

    Morgan, of the World Wildlife Fund, said the main climate change concerns should be dealt with through the Kyoto process, not here. But she said the effort to ignore Tuvalu's plight has been unfair.

    "It just shows the balance of power. These rich nations, they have such a bigger say when Tuvalu has so much at stake," she said.

    Copyright 2002, Associated Press
    All Rights Reserved

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