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[greenyes] Global Warming and Pacific Islands

Sinking Islands Cling to Kyoto Lifebuoy
Sun Feb 13, 2005 1:36 AM GMT

By Michael Perry
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Islanders on tiny Tuvalu in the South Pacific last week 
saw the future of global warming and rising sea levels, as extreme high 
tides caused waves to crash over crumbling sea-walls and flood their homes.
"Our island is sinking together with our hearts," wrote Silafaga Lalua in 
Tuvalu News (
Tuvalu is a remote island nation consisting of a fringe of atolls covering 
just 10 sq miles, with the highest point no more than 17 ft above sea level, 
but most a mere 6.5 ft.
Global warming from greenhouse gas pollution is regarded as the main reason 
for higher sea levels, now rising about 2mm (0.08 in) a year, which could 
swamp low-lying nations such as Tuvalu and the Maldives in the Indian Ocean 
if temperatures keep rising.
On Feb. 16, a landmark U.N. pact to curb global warming comes into force. 
Under the Kyoto Protocol, developed countries are meant to cut emissions of 
carbon dioxide, largely from burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil in 
power plants, factories and cars, by an average 5.2 percent below 1990 
levels during 2008-12.
But the world's biggest greenhouse polluter, the United States, has refused 
to join Kyoto, while some Kyoto signatories such as Spain and Portugal have 
increased greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent over 1990 levels.
Last Tuesday evening, Tuvaluans in the capital Funafuti watched extreme high 
tides and strong winds send waves crashing across the island's main road, 
littering it with rocks and debris.
"It's that time of year again when my tiny island nation gets hit once again 
by strong winds and high tides," said Lalua.
"The sea-walls that were constructed to be barriers from the wrath of the 
waves and the sea stood no chance against the damages of the sea over the 
years, and now they are only tatters of wire among debris along the shores," 
said Lalua.
"Your help and consideration will be treasured by every Tuvaluan around the 
globe." In an address to the U.N. General Assembly in October 2004, the 
Tuvalu government pleaded with the world to save the island nation from 
climate change.
Tuvalu said it understood that for many countries, particularly developed 
nations such as the United States, national security was now a priority and 
the island nation supported the war on terror.
Tuvalu representative Enele Sopoaga told the General Assembly that national 
security was also a priority for Tuvalu, but the threat it faced was not 
from terror groups or weapons of mass destruction but climate change.
"For Tuvalu and many small-island developing states security should be seen 
in its multi-dimensional nature. Our national security is threatened by 
environmental degradation emanating from outside the country," Sopoaga said.
"The impact of climate change has the potential to threaten the survival of 
our entire nation," he said.
Seas rose by 10-20 cm in the 20th century, according to U.N. scientists. 
Thermal expansion -- water expands as it warms -- would be the main cause of 
rising seas along with melting glaciers.
But the biggest threat is if huge ice sheets in Greenland and West 
Antarctica melt. If that happened Tuvalu would be well under water and the 
coastlines of the world swamped.


The world's biggest polluters the United States, India, China and Brazil 
must commit to large-scale greenhouse emission cuts, Delaney said. Even a 
slight rise in sea level threatens their existence. Freshwater supplies, 
essential to inhabit tiny islands, lie only just below the surface and can 
easily be contaminated by rising ground salt water or storm surges.

Peter Anderson, President
4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15
Madison, WI 53705-4964
Ph: (608) 231-1100
Fax: (608) 233-0011
Cell: (608) 698-1314
eMail: anderson@no.address

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