Saturday, 8 March 2014

The climate change disaster that is the Marshall Islands

Tidal flooding in the Marshall Islands this week – the third time this year for the capital of Majuro atoll – rated a brief mention on the overseas services of Australia’s ABC but was ignored by local mainstream media. Small natural disasters just aren’t newsworthy even if they do provide evidence of the damage being caused by rising sea levels.
The Marshall Islands Foreign Minister, Phillip Muller, pointed to the damage global warming is doing to his collection of Pacific Islands when he warned his country will be ‘wiped off the map’ unless global efforts to cut greenhouse gases accelerate.
This is the most serious king tide we have seen in the Marshall Islands for some 30 years, and the third flooding of Majuro atoll, our capital, in the last year alone.
2014-03-08_kingtides
(Click on map to enlarge)
There is no question that these events are increasing in their seriousness and regularity, consistent with the clear scientific information that sea levels are rising faster in the Central-West Pacific than nearly anywhere else in the world…
While we are doing what we can, even the most conservative estimates of sea-level rise, including from the latest US National Climate Assessment, suggest that RMI will literally be wiped off the map some time before the end of the century, given the appalling lack of effort by big emitters to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions…
While king tides are not new to the Marshall Islands, their frequency and ferocity are clearly intensifying.  For those of us in the Pacific, silly discussions about scientific truth are futile.
We know what we see with our own eyes, and our tide gauges prove that the oceans are rising.  We know there is only one explanation for this unprecedented phenomenon:  climate change has arrived.
2014-03-08_swamp
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