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Facing Oblivion, Island Nation Makes Big Sacrifice 360

Posted by Soulskill
from the sink-or-swim dept.
Damien1972 writes "Kiribati, a small nation consisting of 33 Pacific island atolls, is forecast to be among the first countries swamped by rising sea levels. Nevertheless, the country recently made an astounding commitment: it closed over 150,000 square miles of its territory to fishing, an activity that accounts for nearly half the government's tax revenue. What moved the tiny country to take this monumental action? President Anote Tong, says Kiribati is sending a message to the world: 'We need to make sacrifices to provide a future for our children and grandchildren.'"
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Facing Oblivion, Island Nation Makes Big Sacrifice

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  • Huh? (Score:3, Funny)

    by persicom (136940) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @04:45PM (#33622056)

    so we wait until they drown and then fish?

  • Good luck ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jaroslav (467876)

    I wish the people and governments of these island countries well and I certainly think they should try whatever they can to get attention for their plight, but the lesson learned in COP15 is that the major industrial powers of the world are not willing to make major changes in their greenhouse gas emissions. And basically the rest of the world can't do a damn thing to make them.

  • by Tragek (772040) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @04:51PM (#33622106) Journal

    Quite enjoyed J. Maarten Troost's The Sex Lives of Cannibals which takes place on the island of Kiribati. A great beach book.

    It's interesting to hear the government making a commitment like this. As the article has the president saying: "One million is 1+1+1 and so on. Every person and every action is important." Too often forgotten methinks. The cynic in me is losing out today; facing extinction of their islands, I can hope enough that they're sincere, and they others will listen.

  • Atol Growth (Score:2, Informative)

    by WryCoder (18961)

    Studies show that atols and coral islands maintain their height above sealevel. The coral grows upwards as sealevel rises.

    • Re:Atol Growth (Score:4, Interesting)

      by maeka (518272) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @05:05PM (#33622212) Journal

      Studies show that atols and coral islands maintain their height above sealevel. The coral grows upwards as sealevel rises.

      I'm not sure I understand how the dead skeletons of corals past, which are what makes up coral islands, are going to maintain their height above sea level by growing. Perhaps if they get covered by water for a few millennium new corals will attach themselves and grow upon the old? ;)
       

  • So....what? (Score:4, Informative)

    by msauve (701917) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @05:03PM (#33622196)
    Does this somehow help them? The article doesn't say.

    How much of their fishing territory does this eliminate (article says 150,000 square miles, but doesn't mention the current total area)?

    Basically, the article is poorly written, even mixing units - square miles, then square kilometers. Has all the appearance of a "puff piece."
  • by FudRucker (866063) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @05:04PM (#33622204)
    as far as google maps is concerned the islands have already sank in to the pacific
  • Don't have children! Then no grand children.

    Problem solved!

  • Big Fish (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tomhath (637240) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @06:32PM (#33622716)
    This reminds me of a study I read about a year ago, The author pointed out that most reefs were dying, obviously because of global warming. The only ones that are still healthy are the ones where the large predators (sharks, groupers, etc) are still present to control the smaller fish that eat the coral. But the conclusion was that removing the large predators wasn't the problem, it is obviously global warming. Obvious to that scientist anyway.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mpe (36238)
      This reminds me of a study I read about a year ago, The author pointed out that most reefs were dying, obviously because of global warming.

      Typically to the "warmists" everything is due to "(anthropic) global warming"/"climate change"/"(catastropic) climate distruption"/whatever they are calling it this week.

      The only ones that are still healthy are the ones where the large predators (sharks, groupers, etc) are still present to control the smaller fish that eat the coral. But the conclusion was that remov
  • Where do you think all the fish you eat is coming from?

    Ocean are over-exploited, people are talking to register Tuna to the list of endangered species (it is that serious). Quotas and catch management are barely working...

    What you need is an area where fish can reproduce and grow. For migratory species like Tuna you need a big area, and because of el nino anyhow, the big area for fishing is the west Pacific, not the central Pacific where this area is.

    Kiribati just did that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 18, 2010 @06:36PM (#33622744)

    "And the research showed similar trends in the Republic of Kiribati, where the three main urbanised islands also “grew” – Betio by 30 percent (36ha), Bairiki by 16.3 percent (5.8ha) and Nanikai by 12.5 percent (0.8ha).

    Webb, an expert on coastal processes, told the New Scientist the trend was explained by the fact the islands mostly comprised coral debris eroded from encircling reefs and pushed up onto the islands by winds and waves.

    The process was continuous, because the corals were alive, he said."
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/06/02/tuvalu-and-many-other-south-pacific-islands-are-not-sinking-claims-they-are-due-to-global-warming-driven-sea-level-rise-are-opportunistic/

    Worries about the small islands are alarmist propaganda.

    See also

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/03/19/despite-popular-opinion-and-calls-to-action-the-maldives-is-not-being-overrun-by-sea-level-rise/

  • by WebManWalking (1225366) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @08:08PM (#33623182)
    "every action is important"
  • The I-Kiribati (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 18, 2010 @08:27PM (#33623302)

    I have seen quite a bit of wild speculation here as to the motives of the I-Kiribati, and their President as concerns this initiative. I have had the opportunity to visit Kiribati, to install a SolarNetOne solar powered internet infrastructure package, as part of a project with the Internet Society http://www.isoc.org You might remember the SolarNetOne: http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/07/02/1330252 Having been to Kiribati and worked with the I-Kiribati, I would like to offer my perspective on this topic, as well as a little history.

    Kiribati has been inhabited for several thousand years or so by people who have managed to not overfish their waters, not cut down all the trees, not drive the local wildlife to extinction, and not overpopulate their lands. They KNOW how to live in harmony with one another and with their environment. They have a complex system of protecting their own genetic stock that traditionally would not allow a young couple from the same island to mate. They have no homeless, hungry people, or crime. In addition, they are one of the most sincere, honest, and friendly peoples that I have had the opportunity to be around.

    Most of the water for drinking and cleaning there is not groundwater. Coral atolls are essentially ancient coral reefs that have grown upon the rims of slightly more ancient volcanic caldera. Underneath a few meters of soil, which is mostly composed of a fine grit of coral dust, is the reef, or the fossil of the reef. In low areas of the ancient fossilized bedrock of reef, fresh water lenses develop. These are areas where fresh water will pool under the soil, and is isolated from the ocean. There is no aquifer to draw from. The fresh water lenses are a source for agriculture, to be sure, but not the main source of drinking and bathing water. That water is rainwater collected in cisterns or barrels for the most part. One of the main impacts upon them will be sea level rise, and no, it will not erode the ancient bedrock of fossilized coral reef away, but it is already taking a toll on the shoreline: http://gnuveau.net/kir/pict0614.jpg
    Notice the old growth palms that have had their roots undercut. Here is the reef bedrock near the shore:
    http://gnuveau.net/kir/pict0589.jpg
    http://gnuveau.net/kir/pict0591.jpg
    http://gnuveau.net/kir/pict0592.jpg
    http://gnuveau.net/kir/pict0584.jpg
    Notice in the last image there(584), how small the ankleslapper wave is breaking on shore, as opposed to the next to last image(592), where a 15 foot barrel is peeling 1/2 mile offshore. This is because the wave comes up on the shallow outer reef, which rises from VERY deep water, much like on the north shore of Oahu. This forces the wave to expend all its energy on the outer reef, with very little of that energy making it to shore, as one days photos above show. The following image is from the next day, when the wavers were a bit smaller... only 12' or so on the outer reef, and makes the point very well:
    http://gnuveau.net/kir/pict0611.jpg

    Kiribati is not in the path of Tropical cyclones to cause erosion, being in the region where many of the storms start their lives, like the tropical wave region over and off the east coast of Africa which leads to the Atlantic hurricanes.Needless to say, I do not buy the argument that normal erosion will cause this. Erosion with higher sea levels, which makes the outer reef deeper and allows more wave energy to reach the beach, however, will.

    Government is essentially enacted for the most part in what is called Manaeba, or village council, which includes not only an open meeting to discuss events, topics of the day, and courses of action, but also includes a "coverd dish buffet" with each family preparing part of the feast, singing, dancing, and closes with time for socialization. Ideas therefrom are passed up to island council members, and on to members of Parliment, which meets on the capital island of Tarawa. There is no "slick politics" going on in Kiribati, unlike many more developed but imh

  • He said WHAT? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Crypto Gnome (651401) on Saturday September 18, 2010 @08:56PM (#33623442) Homepage Journal

    mongabay.com: Have Kiribati's reefs experienced coral bleaching?

    President Anote Tong: I have certainly seen bleaching. Whether it is the product of climate change, I do not know.

    A straightforward, honest answer from a politician?

    Impressive!

    Sounds like this man has a clue, and integrity. He's prepared to do what needs to be done, even if it's hard.

    Sadly, that makes him a very dangerous man in the minds of "some countries".

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