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Pacific Atolls & Climate Change

April 13, 2014

By Paul Homewood


h/t John Hultquist


There’s an interesting piece by Andrew Bolt, in the Australian Daily Telegraph, responding to claims made by the Treasury chief, Martin Parkinson.



Martin Parkinson shouldn’t be so quick to shout “global warming”


Oh dear. Could Parkinson nominate the islands where this has occurred, and where the cause is man-made warming?

Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson has told an audience in Washington it appeared inevitable that Australia would have to resettle climate change refugees in the coming decades…

‘’[It] doesn’t necessarily arise because you wake up one morning and find water around your ankles because the sea level has risen,’’ he said. ‘’We are seeing it already in some of the small island countries where you are seeing potable water degradation in fresh water wells. If climate change plays out the way scientists believe, then it will be inevitable that there will be climate change refugees in our region and it would naturally fall to Australia and New Zealand to welcome any of those because of our historic links with those countries.’’

True, this claim is made of Kiribati:

Rising sea levels that claim land on which houses are build and invade fresh water wells and plantations pose a threat to the very existence of many people living on low lying atolls in countries like Kiribati and Tuvalu….

Tiiroi, a mother of two is a new to the settlement… The biggest difference she finds from the time she grew up a little girl is Tarawa is the scarcity of water.

“There are wells in this settlement that only have salty water. Neighbours who live a little bit away from the sea allow us to get drinking water from their well,” the 27 year-old said…

The President of Kiribati, Anote Tong is well aware of the challenges posed by beach erosion, sea level rise and contamination of fresh water sources to his country.

But wait. Rising sea levels at Kiribati? Really?


Strangely enough:

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, were gathered by comparing changes to 27 Pacific islands over the last 20 to 60 years using historical aerial photos and satellite images.

Even the 2012 Republic of Kiribati Report Series notes:

However, there is evidence that at present, climate change is not the main cause of coastal erosion, water shortages or overcrowding.

The problem with the wells? Blame overpopulation first:

Peter Sinclair, water resources adviser at the SPC, heads a team measuring the quality of underground drinking water… However, population pressure is an issue in this discussion too, Mr Sinclair explains.

“As long as we get rainfall, the system will replenish, but the population pressure encroaches on the reserve and also affects the bacterial content in the water – we have contamination from housing, agriculture, from people holding pigs, the sanitation practices,” he says.

  1. Mikky permalink
    April 13, 2014 6:12 pm

    Whoops, P45 time for someone at New Scientist, very off-message for them?

  2. William Abbott permalink
    April 13, 2014 6:43 pm

    Paul, I lived on Majuro (Marshall Islands) ’81 and ’82. Its a coral atoll. Among other things I was doing I had a commercial garden with an irrigation well. EVERYBODY knew if you pumped too much water out, you’d ruin the well forever, (a long time anyway) The fresh water floats like a bubble on the salt water. So when you needed water the most you had to use the well most sparingly. We were very careful. Doesn’t have a thing to do with rising sea levels. BTW, sea levels just the same on Majuro as it was 33 years ago. Highest elevation on the biggest island in the atoll is 20 feet above sea level. The atolls don’t stick out of the water very far.

  3. Susan Fraser permalink
    April 13, 2014 10:11 pm

    Chris de Freitas: Human interference real threat to Pacific atolls
    5:30 AM Wednesday Dec 4, 2013

    • John F. Hultquist permalink
      April 14, 2014 2:40 am

      Thanks Susan. I’d missed that.

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