This is “science”:
Linber Anej waded out in low tide to haul concrete chunks and metal scraps to shore and rebuild the makeshift sea wall in front of his home. The temporary barrier is no match for the rising seas that regularly flood the shacks and muddy streets with saltwater and raw sewage, but every day except Sunday, Mr. Anej joins a group of men and boys to haul the flotsam back into place.
“It’s insane, I know,” said Mr. Anej, 30, who lives with his family of 13, including his parents, siblings and children, in a four-room house. “But it’s the only option we’ve got.”
Standing near his house at the edge of a densely packed slum of tin shacks, he said, “I feel like we’re living underwater.”
Worlds away, in plush hotel conference rooms in Paris, London, New York and Washington, Tony A. deBrum, the foreign minister of the Marshall Islands, tells the stories of men like Mr. Anej to convey to more powerful policy makers the peril facing his island nation in the Pacific as sea levels rise — and to shape the legal and financial terms of a major United Nations climate change accord now being negotiated in Paris.
Mr. deBrum’s focus is squarely on the West’s wallets — recouping “loss and damage,” in negotiators’ parlance, for the destruction wrought by the rich nations’ industrial might on the global environment. Many other low-lying nations are just as threatened by rising seas. In Bangladesh, some 17 percent of the land could be inundated by 2050, displacing about 18 million people. But the Marshall Islands holds an important card: Under a 1986 compact, the roughly 70,000 residents of the Marshalls, because of their long military ties to Washington, are free to emigrate to the United States, a pass that will become more enticing as the water rises on the islands’ shores.
Most of the 1,000 or so Marshall Islands, spread out over 29 narrow coral atolls in the South Pacific, are less than six feet above sea level — and few are more than a mile wide. For the Marshallese, the destructive power of the rising seas is already an inescapable part of daily life. Changing global trade winds have raised sea levels in the South Pacific about a foot over the past 30 years, faster than elsewhere. Scientists are studying whether those changing trade winds have anything to do with climate change.
But add to this problem a future sea-level rise wrought by climate change, and islanders who today experience deluges of tidal flooding once every month or two could see their homes unfit for human habitation within the coming decades.
In neighborhoods like Mr. Anej’s, after the sewage-filled tides wash into homes, fever and dysentery soon follow. On other islands, the wash of saltwater has penetrated and salinated underground freshwater supply. On Majuro, flooding tides damaged hundreds of homes in 2013. The elementary school closed for nearly two weeks to shelter families. That same year, the airport temporarily closed after tides flooded the runway.
On defense matters, the Marshall Islands’ strategic value to the United States no longer rests on the Pacific nuclear testing grounds but on Kwajalein, the largest of the Marshall atolls, which is home to the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site. The 1,200 Americans who live on the base launch missiles, operate space weapons programs and track NASA research, supported by an annual budget of $182 million. About 900 Marshallese workers take a ferry to the base every day to support them.
The Pentagon, which has a lease on Kwajalein until 2066, has commissioned scientific studies on the impact that rising sea levels will have on the base’s mission. In 2008, a tidal wash flooded the base and destroyed all the freshwater supplies on the island. The military responded with expensive desalination machines and heavy-duty sea walls made of riprap, a fortified granite used in hydraulic engineering.
That is the kind of adaptation Mr. deBrum wants to see on the islands where his people live, and it would not be cheap. Among the most contentious terms to be negotiated in Paris will be a pledge, put forth during the 2009 climate change summit meeting in Copenhagen by Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state at the time, that rich countries would mobilize $100 billion annually by 2020 to help poor countries control their greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the punishing impacts of climate change. Countries have already established a “Green Climate Fund” to receive contributions. Mr. Obama has pledged an initial United States donation of $3 billion.
The Marshall Islands are atolls, and atolls naturally erode away. According to science, the atolls were originally volcanic islands surrounded by coral reefs. Then the volcanic islands subsided below sea level away, leaving somewhat circular coral reefs topped with dirt and plants.
Eventually the atolls were occupied by humans.
Now we are supposed to spend fantastic sums of money to stop the seas from allegedly rising and/or make these atolls impervious to natural erosion. But wouldn’t it be cheaper and easier just to move the occupants of the atolls somewhere else?
This assumes, of course, that the seas actually rise and there is something we could do about it. This assumes facts not in evidence. In fact, the article doesn’t claim the seas have risen, just that they could.
For the record, I am not a climate change denier. Climate has always changed. Long before humans walked this planet it was both warmer and cooler than it is today. Our ancestors didn’t try to stop the world from changing, they just adapted to it.
Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. – Matthew 7:24-27 (KJV)