Regarding the article Tuvalu outcome ‘shameful’ (The Southern Cross, September 2019) certainly it is shameful to think that with the demands of leaders such as Tuvalu and Tonga being unmet by the Australian Government and other nations that the Pacific Island leaders propose to partner with China, the largest emitter of carbon dioxide on the planet.
In trying to find a sustainable outcome, it will require more than a ‘shake-down’ of Australia and other governments. Their claim that Tuvalu (actually not a single island but over 100 atolls and reefs) is under threat of sinking is false. If anything, overall it is rising.
The Pacific Islands have been rising and sinking for millions of years, as they overlie the Earth’s largest tectonic plate. Places such as Tuvalu and Hawaii were originally formed from giant volcanoes rising thousands of metres from the sea floor.
Professor Paul Kench and his team from New Zealand School of Environment made a study of the changing shapes of the 110 atolls and reef islands in Tuvalu for 43 years between 1971 and 2014. Their findings, published in the prestigious journal Nature, were that 74 per cent of the islands had increased in size (land area) while 26 per cent had decreased in size.
Professor Kench reported that the Tuvalu study showed a continued expansion of the medium to large-sized islands were on the majority. The shapes may change but the physical foundation of the islands will persist as potential pedestals for habitation over centuries to come.
These scientific facts are often misrepresented and cite Professor Kench’s work as proving Tuvalu is sinking. Reference is made to the one of 26 islands that reduced in size (for perfectly good reasons). This is used to show decrease in size due to rising sea levels, and use that island to represent all of Tuvalu and broadly all of the Pacific Islands.
In short, the changes at Tuvalu are examples of man-made global warming being incorrectly blamed for natural events as many of the islands in the Pacific are rising and sinking due to environmental causes and to the geology of that region of the Pacific.
The Pacific Island nations do face serious problems because of their small populations, low GDP, fresh water supplies, and a brain drain as people of their nation seek to live in such places as New Zealand.
Melton Mowbray, Millicent
Thank you to Bishop Greg O’Kelly SJ for his very succinct and prophetic reflection Life in Abundance (The Southern Cross, October, 2019). The words and thoughts expressed deserve, I suggest, prominent display in all Catholic school homerooms and on kitchen refrigerators as food for discussion and action.
John Kelly, Tranmere
Jump to next article