Oceania sinks, and like New Zealand, we have to help

By Paul Robinson - 12 Aug 2014 5:48:0 GMT
Oceania sinks, and like New Zealand, we have to help

Tabuaeran Island in Kiribati is well known for its shellfish (fished for here with pegged mats) and great swells. Ideal for surfing, but how long can a community survive there as the water levels rise? Tabuaeran image; Credit: © Shutterstock

Kiribati and Tuvalu have started disappearing beneath the sea. Sea-levels have risen faster in the western Pacific than elsewhere, but we will all have similar rises after global warming has had its way. 100,001 Oceania residents have been looking for alternative accommodation since 2012. Of the 32 atolls making up Kiribati, few are at a height to feel comfortable over the next century.

King tides breach the sea walls around the atoll villages of Tarawa regularly. With no sewage system, the health risks combine with the destructive potential of the sea. No drinking water poses one problem while knee-high water prevents most movement. October 16th 2013 saw the first case presented to one mountainous location- the nearest available nation with space was New Zealand. Ioane Teitiota's application was rejected earlier this year.

Over in Tuvalu, north of Fiji, the atolls stand a tiny 6 feet (2m) above sea-level. One couple with children born in New Zealand had found New Zealand's giant status (above the waves) very attractive since 2007. Obviously the Maori started a trend, centuries ago. On August 3rd, 2014, the New Zealand Immigration and Protection Tribunal agreed that this unique case involved strong, close community ties by the couple and their family and finally approved residency for humanitarian reasons following climate change. The father may now be able to work as a teacher, for which he is qualified.

Now we need to see if this case presents a precedent for both New Zealand, and an even more spacious Australia. We can hardly expect Singapore or heavily populated nations to help much. The applications and the already overcrowded queues to enter highly developed countries will grow and the result should be a planned immigration, governed from the affected islands. There are many overcrowded regions of all the major continents, but actually losing your whole country has to count as higher up the scale than long-lasting overpopulation.

The so-called International Refugee Convention would need to either change their name or adjust some priorities. People who think they may be affected also need to become very aware. An education for both sexes is not a luxury- it leads to greater spending power by a family and in this case an enhanced ability to transfer you skills across continents. If you can't find good education for your children, you need to rethink priorities. There is no future for manual workers where there are many already resident.

If you want children, their abilities should be a major concern as they mature into people who have something to give to any society. All of our long histories are full of migrations and people who emerge from sad even hopeless situations. They often grow into old nations or new, with full employment or many jobs. Their futures depended on their education and experience being of great use, or not.

If you prefer a different emphasis, the dangers to cities in most nations on earth are laid bare here in - 21st Century Coastal Flooding and several more articles you can simply search from our box above.