Small islands in danger of extinction

Sally Davies, in an article for the site, looks at a recent UN report that claims that rising sea levels from global warming may devastate small islands.

A climate change insurance fund is being called for by small island states. This comes following the UN’s report that increasing sea levels may render whole nations uninhabitable.

The study was aimed at assessing the impacts of global warming on sea levels. It found that the Caribbean seas could rise by as much as 6.5 feet before the end of the 21st century. It also warned of increases in storm surges and hurricanes.

The Oxford University research team believes that 260,000 people would be displaced from the islands. They also suggest that one million people would be at risk from flooding while billions of dollars would be lost in tourism.

As 194 nations converge in Cancun for the newest UN talks on global warming, small island states are calling for help.

Vice Chairman of the Association of Small Island States, Antonio Lima, has said whole nations could be washed away.

He mentioned that the people of Tuvalu, the Maldives, the Marshall Islands and the Cook Islands sit only meters above current sea levels.

The small island states are urging for cuts in emission to combat global warming. They are also calling for an insurance fund, so that in the event of a disaster money will be available for aid.

The group of forty islands believes that the money spent on setting up the fund would be far less than that required to deal with an unexpected disaster.

Climate Change and Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne, said a global insurance fund would be considered as a means of funding.

For the original report go to

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One thought on “Small islands in danger of extinction

  1. Excellent work, excellent article !
    Let me write a few comments on legal and social context.

    While the Earth has always endured natural climate change variability, we are now facing the possibility of irreversible climate change in the near future. The increase of greenhouse gases in the Earth?s atmosphere from industrial processes has enhanced the natural greenhouse effect. This in turn has accentuated the greenhouse ?trap? effect, causing greenhouse gases to form a blanket around the Earth, inhibiting the sun?s heat from leaving the outer atmosphere. This increase of greenhouse gases is causing an additional warming of the Earth?s surface and atmosphere. A direct consequence of this is sea-level rise expansion, which is primarily due to the thermal expansion of oceans (water expands when heated), inducing the melting of ice sheets as global surface temperature increases.

    Forecasts for climate change by the 2,000 scientists on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) project a rise in the global average surface temperature by 1.4 to 5.8°C from 1990 to 2100. This will result in a global mean sea level rise by an average of 5 mm per year over the next 100 years. Consequently, human-induced climate change will have ?deleterious effects? on ecosystems, socio-economic systems and human welfare.At the moment, especially high risks associated with the rise of the oceans are having a particular impact on the two archipelagic states of Western Polynesia: Tuvalu and Kiribati. According to UN forecasts, they may be completely inundated by the rising waters of the Pacific by 2050.According to the vast majority of scientific investigations, warming waters and the melting of polar and high-elevation ice worldwide will steadily raise sea levels. This will likely drive people off islands first by spoiling the fresh groundwater, which will kill most land plants and leave no potable water for humans and their livestock.

    Low-lying island states like Kiribati, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands and the Maldives are the most prominent nations threatened in this way.“The biggest challenge is to preserve their nationality without a territory,” said Bogumil Terminski from Geneva. The best solution is continue to recognize deterritorialized states as a normal states in public international law. The case of Kiribati and other small island states is a particularly clear call to action for more secure countries to respond to the situations facing these ‘most vulnerable nations’, as climate change increasingly impacts upon their lives.

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