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About Those Non-Disappearing Pacific IslandsEnter a post title

October 15, 2016

By Paul Homewood




Bjorn Lomborg writes:


Once a year or so, journalists from major news outlets travel to the Marshall Islands, a remote chain of volcanic islands and coral atolls in the Pacific Ocean, to report in panicked tones that the island nation is vanishing because of climate change. Their dispatches are often filled with raw emotion and suggest that residents are fleeing atolls swiftly sinking into the sea.

Yet new research shows that this is not the entire—or even an accurate—picture. Acknowledging this doesn’t mean that global warming isn’t real, or that world leaders and scientists shouldn’t tackle the adverse effects of climate change, but hype and exaggeration serve no one.

Using historic aerial photographs and high-resolution satellite imagery, Auckland University scientists Murray Ford and Paul Kench recently analyzed shoreline changes on six atolls and two mid-ocean reef islands in the Marshall Islands. Their peer-reviewed study, published in the September 2015 issue of Anthropocene, revealed that since the middle of the 20th century the total land area of the islands has actually grown.

How is that possible? It seems self-evident that rising sea levels will reduce land area. However, there is a process of accretion, where coral broken up by the waves washes up on these low-lying islands as sand, counteracting the reduction in land mass. Research shows that this process is overpowering the erosion from sea-level rise, leading to net land-area gain.

This is not only true for the Marshall Islands. The researchers write that within the “recently emerging body of shoreline change studies on atoll islands there is little evidence of widespread reef island erosion. To the contrary, several studies have documented noteworthy shoreline progradation [growth] and positional changes of islands since the mid-20th century, resulting in a net increase in island area.” The most famous of these studies, published in 2010 by Paul Kench and Arthur Webb of the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission in Fiji, showed that of 27 Pacific islands, 14% lost area. Yet 43% gained area, with the rest remaining stable.

Representatives from the Marshall Islands have been vocal about the need for strong global action on climate. President Hilda Heine has told reporters that longtime residents are leaving the Marshall Islands because climate change is threatening the nation’s existence. It’s true that approximately one-third of the population has relocated to the U.S.—but for reasons more mundane than climate change.

Some 52.7% of the Marshall Islands population lives below the poverty line, according to the Asian Development Bank. Only 39.3% of the population age 15 years and above is employed. In its 2015 human-rights report on the island nation, the U.S. State Department said that significant problems include “chronic government corruption, and chronic domestic violence,” along with “child abuse, sex trafficking, and lack of legal provisions protecting worker’s rights.” Marshallese citizens also have an easy immigration pathway to America and can live, work and study in the U.S. without a visa.

It is understandable why Marshall Island leaders might prefer to talk about global warming. But blaming today’s emigration on rising seas does a disservice to all.

Telling viewers in the U.S. starkly that they’re “making this island disappear,” as a report from CNN’s John Sutter did in June 2015, makes for good, blame-laden television. But this reductionist, fact-averse rhetoric contributes to the idea that climate-change discussion should be a two-sided, cartoonish fight between those who say it is not real and those who say it is the worst problem facing humanity.

Even more insidiously, doom-mongering makes us panic and seize upon the wrong responses to global warming. At a cost of between $1 trillion and $2 trillion annually, the Paris climate agreement, recently ratified by China, is likely to be history’s most expensive treaty. It will slow the world’s economic growth to force a shift to inefficient green energy sources.

This will achieve almost nothing. My peer-reviewed research, published last November in the journal Global Policy, shows that even if every nation were to fulfill all their carbon-cutting promises by 2030 and stick to them all the way through the century—at a cost of more than $100 trillion in lost GDP—global temperature rise would be reduced by a tiny 0.3°F (0.17°C).

  1. dennisambler permalink
    October 15, 2016 11:00 am

    But still the madness will continue, because this has never been about climate. It is purely political and is the ongoing UN agenda starting in the 70’s, given early life by Maurice Strong who enhanced the role of NGO’s within the UN system.

    Sustainable Development, Bio-diversity, Agenda 21 and 2030, are all code for Global Governance. Global financiers and Banks are all on-board for the massive diversion of wealth from the West to developing nations which they will also control.

    Oh, that’s a conspiracy theory…….isn’t it?

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      October 15, 2016 12:46 pm

      Just because you’re paranoid, dennis, doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you!

      There is enough evidence, starting as you say with Maurice Strong (along with the Sierra Club and assorted others), that the climate change conspiracy has nothing to do with climate which was only ever an excuse.

      The “discovery” that an essential trace gas in the atmosphere could be accused of having the potential to eliminate mankind was a godsend to the new breed of environmental activist (Delingpole’s “watermelons”, left homeless and destitute by the demise of the Soviet Union) whose avowed aim was the elimination of western civilisation and for anyone who wants it there is a raft of quotes from their own mouths to support that statement.

      Two of the best are from Tim Wirth (who orchestrated the notorious Hansen Senate hearing) — “Even if the theory of global warming is wrong we will be doing the right thing in terms of economic socialism and environmental policy” — and from Strong himself — “Isn’t the only hope for the planet that the industrialised civilisations collapse? Isn’t it our responsibility to bring that about?”

      We must surely be the only species that has a significant proportion of its members deliberately setting out to make life worse for the species as a whole.

      • g stuart permalink
        October 15, 2016 1:30 pm


  2. October 15, 2016 11:02 am

    Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    “Even more insidiously, doom-mongering makes us panic and seize upon the wrong responses to [perceived dangerous] global warming. At a cost of between $1 trillion and $2 trillion annually, the Paris climate agreement, recently ratified by China, is likely to be history’s most expensive treaty. It will slow the world’s economic growth to force a shift to inefficient green energy sources.”

  3. October 15, 2016 11:07 am

    Paul –
    many things about the global warming debate are up-for-grabs, disputed, contended, qualified, but the ‘disappearing atolls’ mantra has not, and has never had, any credibilty. You have to cherry-pick till your suit is running in juice to make a case for it.

    I recall writing to New Scientist many years ago on this subject – I think it was about the time that those jokers who run the Maldives were holding an underwater cabinet meeting, but it may have been earlier- pointing out that Charles Darwin, on the strength of his observations from a single voyage 160+years before, correctly nailed the nature of these islands. ‘The Voyage of the Beagle’ should be compulsory reading for all. In many ways it is as ground-breaking as ‘The Origin of Species ….’ and a wonderful piece of literature and an adventure story all rolled into one.

    Unusually, they published my letter, which may have been because I used my wife’s work address, which happened to be a higher education establishment, rather than my own. Several letters in support were published in response, and no refutation at all.

    For the layman, it is instructive to consider just WHY the highest point of these islands is usually just a few feet above sea level. I guess most people, easily seduced by the meme of disappearance under the waves, think it’s a coincidence. Would be some conincidence! Folks, IT ISN’T. These islands are FEATURES of the sea level, and created and maintained by it. Nowt to fear.

    • Broadlands permalink
      October 15, 2016 1:37 pm

      Mothcatcher… Darwin did much more than that. The HMS Beagle made air and seawater temperatures, barometer readings and weather notations around the world, mostly near 12 Noon for five years. At some places where the Beagle was moored while he was on land…e.g. Rio de Janeiro, the temperatures are not statistically different than they are there today. His journals are a wealth of information.

  4. dearieme permalink
    October 15, 2016 11:58 am

    “hype and exaggeration serve no one”: au bleedin’ contraire, most Climate Science careers depend on them.

  5. Bloke down the pub permalink
    October 15, 2016 12:06 pm

    If they’re looking for the culprit for the disappearing islands, they’d do much better to look at over-fishing, coral mining and over-extraction of fresh water. Of course blaming these doesn’t earn them big bucks like the warming scam does so they get ignored.

  6. RAH permalink
    October 15, 2016 1:14 pm

    The most devastating thing man has done in the Marshalls were the battles between the US and Japanese at Majuro, Kwajalein, and Eniwetok during January and February of 1944. And of course the 23 nuclear devices the US tested at Bikini between 1948 and 1956.

  7. Broadlands permalink
    October 15, 2016 1:27 pm

    Glorious Islands, Madagascar, 1821-Today…. 195 years of sea level rise?

    GLORIOUS ISLANDS, two in number, are low, small, situated on a reef, about 38 or 40 leagues to the W. N. W. of Cape Ambre. Capt. Moresby, in the Menai sloop of war, touched at these islands in 1821, and made the eastern one in lat. 11° 32½′ S. lon. 47° 39′ E. and the western one in lat. 11° 34¾′ S. lon. 47° 30′ E. by observations of sun and moon, nearly agreeing with chronometer. They are covered with brush wood and trees 20 or 25 feet high, and are about 15 feet above the sea level,


    “The climate is tropical and the terrain is low and flat, varying from sea level to 12 metres (39 ft). Île de Lys in particular is a nesting ground for migratory seabirds, and turtles lay eggs on the beaches.”

  8. Robin Guenier permalink
    October 15, 2016 2:01 pm

    Yet China is spending billions building low-lying islands in the South China Sea: LINK. But … they’ve just ratified the Paris Agreement: surely they agree that AGW means these islands will soon be submerged?

    • October 15, 2016 3:24 pm

      If they look like submerging, they’ll be piled up with concrete. The purpose is not to inhabit, it’s a strategic claim to the local waters and the natural resources therein/thereunder. In any case, land below sea level can comfortably be defended, and peopled, and farmed, as the Dutch, and others, have been showing for centuries.

      • Robin Guenier permalink
        October 15, 2016 4:41 pm

        I suggest you read the article to which I provide a link. They’re building port facilities, military installations, radar facilities and airstrips (“long enough to land any plane, from fighter jets to large transport aircraft”). “Purpose not to inhabit … pile up with concrete”. Er – I don’t think so.

      • October 15, 2016 5:48 pm

        Robin – Of course there is a big military element necessary for the project – I don’t think we really have a disagreement. The point I am making is that it isn’t the islands themselves that are the real prize – although, of course, there are a lot of islands that China is claiming, so some may be worth colonising for tourism, etc.

      • Robin Guenier permalink
        October 15, 2016 9:41 pm

        I agree mc. But my objective here is simply to note that the Chinese would hardly be investing enormous sums in substantial military and economic assets if they thought it would all would soon be engulfed by rising seas. Despite their crocodile tears for Pacific islanders this is yet more evidence that they are unconcerned about AGW.

    • catweazle666 permalink
      October 15, 2016 6:47 pm

      As China is classed as a ‘developing country’, it will not contribute to the Paris Agreement kitty, it will receive billions to assist in its battle to halt AGW. Same for India. The fact that both have not only nuclear weapons but also active space research programs has nothing to do with it.

      Not as it matters, the chances of any of the signatories actually coppering up more than peanuts is remote in the extreme.

  9. markl permalink
    October 15, 2016 3:22 pm

    As long as the Marx Bros control the MSM these facts will be known by few and and the scare mongering will continue. Only time will tell.

    • RAH permalink
      October 16, 2016 8:50 am

      The Marx Brothers were talented, funny, and entertaining. The MSM is none of those things. Well, let me amend that statement. The MSM does not intend to be funny but sometimes they are inadvertently hilarious, and they don’t even know it when they beclown themselves.

  10. October 15, 2016 5:29 pm

    We don’t need no steenkin facts.

  11. October 16, 2016 2:32 am

    What up with “Enter a post title” in the post title??

  12. johnmarshall permalink
    October 16, 2016 8:52 am

    Coral sand is not produced by storm action but by parrot fish. These fish eat coral polyps and the chewed coral becomes sand internally to be ejected from the fish’s anus. Storms collect this sand and form storm berms at high water level. This will have the added benefit of enlarging a coral island.
    Remember when sunbathing on a white coral sand beach, you are lying on fish crap.

    • RAH permalink
      October 16, 2016 5:06 pm

      For a person that has slept on dry porcupine dung for several days one time the idea of laying on a beach does not bother me in the least.

      • October 16, 2016 8:21 pm

        Did the porcupine object?

      • RAH permalink
        October 16, 2016 9:55 pm

        He or she had evacuated before we invaded it’s home. It was well up the side of a mountain in the Apennines in Northern Italy. We were hiding out in a sort of shelter formed with a roof of a huge flat sided bolder with rocks stacked up on the downslope side to make the walls. The structure had been originally built and used by WWII Italian Partisans/Guerrillas fighting the Germans after the US had invaded Italy. The whole dirt floor was covered with that dried dung. But it did return one night and chewed up the side of one guys leather boots. We guessed it was attracted by the salt from the guys sweat that was in the leather.

  13. October 16, 2016 10:10 am

    But the climate models say…blah blah.

  14. JeffT permalink
    October 17, 2016 6:34 am

    Just around the corner from the Pacific Ocean in the Indian Ocean, is the Maldives Island Group, where as previously mentioned, their parliament held an underwater session to point out their “plight” of rising sea levels. But no-one seems to mention that to the south of the Maldives is the island of Diego Garcia, an American Naval and listening base. Does America have an exemption from rising sea levels for this facility, as it has not much elevation and beaches like many other tropical islands. Check it out on Google Earth.

    • RAH permalink
      October 17, 2016 10:11 am


      We must have an exemption. After all they put in a series of tunnels in East Boston unofficially known as the “Big Dig” rerouting major interstates. It remains the most expensive Interstate project in US history and was completed in 1982. The tunnels go under the inner harbor and the Charles River. This despite their claim the rate of sea level rise is increasing and estimate of sea level raising from 2 to 6 feet by the end of the century.

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