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Earth

Arkansas Has a Growing Population of "Climate Change Refugees" 276

HughPickens.com writes: Located between Hawaii and Australia, the Marshall Islands are made up of 29 atolls and five islands with a population of about 70,000, all of whom live about six feet above sea level. Now Story Hinkley writes in the Christian Science Monitor that another 10,000 Marshallese have moved to Springdale, Arkansas because of climate change. Because this Pacific island nation is so small, the Marshallese population in Arkansas attribute their Springdale settlement to one man, John Moody, who moved to the US in 1979 after the first wave of flooding. Moody's family eventually moved to Springdale to live with him and work for Tyson and other poultry companies based in Arkansas, eventually causing a steady flow of extended friends and family migrating to Springdale. "Probably in 10 to 20 years from now, we're all going to move," says Roselinta Keimbar adding that she likes Arkansas because it is far away from the ocean, meaning it is safe.

For more than three decades, Marshallese have moved in the thousands to the landlocked Ozark Mountains for better education, jobs and health care, thanks to an agreement that lets them live and work in the US.. This historical connection makes it an obvious destination for those facing a new threat: global warming. Marshallese Foreign Minister Tony de Brum says even a small rise in global temperatures would spell the demise of his country. While many world leaders in Paris want to curb emissions enough to cap Earth's warming at 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius), de Brum is pushing for a target that's 25 percent lower. "The thought of evacuation is repulsive to us," says de Brum. "We think that the more reasonable thing to do is to seek to end this madness, this climate madness, where people think that smaller, vulnerable countries are expendable and therefore they can continue to do business as usual." Meanwhile residents jokingly call their new home "Springdale Atoll," and there's even a Marshallese consulate in Springdale, the only one on the mainland US. "Its not our fault that the tide is getting higher," says Carlon Zedkaia,. "Just somebody else in this world that wants to get rich."
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Arkansas Has a Growing Population of "Climate Change Refugees"

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  • Education... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KGIII ( 973947 ) <uninvolved@outlook.com> on Tuesday December 01, 2015 @09:22AM (#51032883) Journal

    Now, I've traveled pretty extensively - and have enjoyed my time in Arkansas quite a bunch. But... And you knew there must be a but... I can't really imagine the hardship if you're moving to the Ozarks for a "better education." This might seem like a slam against the Ozarks and, indeed, it might be but the reality is that they're not stupid - it's that I just don't think of the Ozarks when I think of where to send people for a "better education."

    Better than what? I was under the impression that we'd put schools and infrastructure in place post WWII. The climate part I get... But, of all the places to seek in the US for "better education" that seems a bit of a stretch. I'm thinking it was cheap living, ready jobs at Tyson, family, and a pre-existing culture base that was similar due to their historical roots. Hmm... I suspect "education" makes a better sound bite but damned if I'm gonna read the article - I'm no heretic.

    • To me the "wow" moment was rather the "better healthcare" bit.

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        That too... I think the entire article is probably a stretch for reasons other than they had a desire to not live on an isolated island without the benefits of modernity (which probably includes safety) and moved to where they had familiar people and jobs. It is tempting to read the article but I have my pride. If it's got pictures then I'd see fit to view those infographics but I'm guessing it probably doesn't so I'll skip giving them the traffic. Ah well...

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I would rather send my kid to school in the poorest Ozark school than almost any inner-city shithole school in America.

      • I would rather send my kid to school in the poorest Ozark school than almost any inner-city shithole school in America.

        Actually, in northern AR, there are some VERY wealthy communities up there, due mostly in part to the Walmart Walton family. There are multi-million dollar homes, and an airport, I believe, was put in just for all the business that is done up there....with industry folks coming in up there to try to get Walmart to carry their goods, etc.

        So, with that kinda money, the school system up the

    • Re:Education... (Score:5, Informative)

      by NostalgiaForInfinity ( 4001831 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2015 @09:59AM (#51033093)

      Better than what? I was under the impression that we'd put schools and infrastructure in place post WWII.

      Per capita GDP in the Marshall Islands is $2900, compared to Arkansas's $31000. Arkansas, while near the bottom among US states, is better off even compared to EU members like the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia, Estonia, Portugal, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, and Croatia.

      No matter how much "schools and infrastructure" we put in place, a pacific atoll simply doesn't have much to support a thriving economy: it is poorly located for physical or data traffic, has few natural resources, and has always been at high risk of natural disasters. The reason much of Micronesia and Polynesia were settled so late in human migration (many places just a few thousand years ago) is because these islands really are not good places to live and people only move there if they don't have a choice.

      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        I'd have expected them to go to Australia or maybe somewhere in Southern Europe or even parts of Eurasia. The Ozarks? It just strikes me as an odd choice - I've been to the Ozarks but I've never been to the Marshall Islands. I've read a bit about them and seen a few documentaries but I've never felt the urge to go.

        • Re:Education... (Score:5, Informative)

          by Frigga's Ring ( 1044024 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2015 @10:36AM (#51033337)
          Three reasons were called out in the article:

          John Moody and his family moved from the islands to Springdale creating an existing community of Marshalese in the US
          There's a Marshalese consulate in Springdale
          There's an existing agreement that lets the Marshalese people live and work in the US
      • by gstovall ( 22014 )

        Better than what? I was under the impression that we'd put schools and infrastructure in place post WWII.

        Per capita GDP in the Marshall Islands is $2900, compared to Arkansas's $31000.

        One other factor is that the urban conglomerate of Springdale/Fayetteville/Rogers/Bentonville has a substantially higher per-capita income than the rest of the state. The schools are quite good and well-funded, since this is the headquarters for Wal-Mart (with all the correspondingly highly paid execs). First-year teachers in Springdale make $46K/year, while first year teachers elsewhere in the state start at $30K.

    • How recently did you travel to Arkansas? From what your comments say, not recently. Northwest Arkansas is the fastest growing part of the state with a very high quality education system by comparison to the rest of the state. They can't build schools fast enough up there to keep up with the growing population. Healthcare systems are a lot better up there as well. A lot of folks I know here in the Fort Smith area that need healthcare will commute up I-49 to NWA to get their healthcare there instead of p
      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        Three or four years ago and probably again within the next couple of months as I'm on the road and down in DC already. Anyhow, no - I'd expect to see them in Australia or somewhere in Europe or maybe Eurasia or similar. The Ozarks seems a very odd space for them to settle. You may be seeing slight where none is intended. I'd have felt it just as odd had it been somewhere in the NE, MW, or NW. Hell, I'd have felt it odd anywhere in the US except maybe Hawaii.

        • The Ozarks seems a very odd space for them to settle.

          The Ozarks are beautiful. I have a luthier friend who lives there and I visit him every Spring. At least his little patch is how I expect heaven to be, except without the insects.

        • They weren't given citizenship in Australia, Europe or Eurasia.

      • Agreed. Small disclosure: I'm from this particular bit of the planet. I can say that even 20 years ago, it was growing and doing very well - both academically and otherwise (especially compared with the rest of the state.) Incidentally, Fayetteville (the largest city in the area, just south of Springdale) is the home of the University of Arkansas, which is well regarded in its own right.

        As for Healthcare, it is actually top-notch when compared to most of the South, and even most of the US.

        The cost of livin

    • Better then Marshall islands. That appears to be enough.

    • by SirKron ( 112214 )
      The Marshall Islands have an outreach community college based in Japan. Springdale, AR is very close to the University of Arkansas which alone far surpasses anything they had back home.
    • I was in the Marshall Islands for 4 months back in 1996. The education available there is extremely limited and not of high quality. There is no post-secondary education available there. Standards for STEM subjects are extremely low, and the dropout rate is extremely high. At the time I was there, it was normal to have a first child in your mid-teens (for both men and women). The Seventh Day Adventist church had a semi-decent elementary school on Majuro (the main island) with youth serving as the teach

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by blogagog ( 1223986 )
      Just an fyi - Arkansas (as well as most rural areas) get better test scores than our largest cities like NYC, Chicago, and LA. If you can't get into a suburban public school, go for a rural one before you do the city route.
  • by prefec2 ( 875483 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2015 @09:25AM (#51032901)

    Are they Muslims? If so this is the end to our America. And look they criticize our way of live. We will not change our ways just for a flipping atoll who have for no apparent reason access to the US. It is our right to drive where other people would walk. And it is our right to have this great market economy. Yes we can become rich. Every decent person can become rich. And we will not allow to destroy this by some island folks or the pope who is not a true Christian. Look he just visited a Mosque in Africa. And there is no such thing as human made global warming, because if there were we would have to give up our birth rights. We will never do that.
    -- signed, Republican Simbot v0.5a

    • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2015 @09:50AM (#51033033)

      Are they Muslims? Well in that case they're oppressed and we must defend them and their religion no matter what they do. anyway, we know Muslims can do no wrong, because all evil in the world is caused by white heterosexual Christian males. Everyone else is an oppressed child who must be coddled, indulged, and taken care of by the evil oppressive white Christian patriarchy. And if you dare say any differently, you're a racist, sexist, bigot who should be banned from speaking in public, banned from the internet, kicked out of university, and arrested.
      -- signed, Democrat Simbot v0.5a

      • by orlanz ( 882574 )

        I am going to vote for one of the two above. If you don't like either, vote for me as I am the third option. Please?
        -- signed, Independent Simbot v0.1

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

      Are they Muslims?

      Probably not. But if global warming continues we might have adherents of cargo cults from Vanuatu move to the US. They even worship Americans. Literally: they have "gods" named John Frum and Tom Navy who are depicted as US servicemen during WWII.

    • No, they're not Muslims. That's somewhere in the deep Pacific, where thankfully, Islam never arrived
    • is a True Christian anything like a True Scotsman?
  • since we all know there is no such thing as AGW. I understand the Tuamotus are being abandoned as well.

  • by retroworks ( 652802 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2015 @09:39AM (#51032965) Homepage Journal
    The Searcy County seat town of Marshall, Arkansas in the Ozarks has been suffering from an exodus of youth during the past few decades. My parents are retired there and complain that there are not enough young people to take care of the aging population. I take this as a sign of divine Providence... warming could be an act of God intended to care for my retired parents.
    • So you're saying God is destroying island nations, threatening food, water, and energy supplies, and potentially causing the extinction of huge numbers of species so your parents can be comfortable? I have a robust spirituality so I'm not about to challenge a belief in God, but that is bananas.
  • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2015 @09:41AM (#51032977) Journal
    but I was not Marshallese, so I didn't get involved.

    Whether you believe in God or climate change, and I'm not certain why the two are typically mutually exclusive, it has to occur to you that change is inevitable. Tangible evidence exists that the World's weather is different now, and it doesn't take a wild leap of imagination to infer that eight billion humans probably have something to do with it.

    The sacrifice required now to right the ship is minimal compared to what it will become in a decade... and past a certain tipping point, there will be no remedy. Buy some land where it's presently very cold.

    • by khallow ( 566160 )

      Whether you believe in God or climate change, and I'm not certain why the two are typically mutually exclusive, it has to occur to you that change is inevitable. Tangible evidence exists that the World's weather is different now, and it doesn't take a wild leap of imagination to infer that eight billion humans probably have something to do with it.

      The sacrifice required now to right the ship is minimal compared to what it will become in a decade... and past a certain tipping point, there will be no remedy. Buy some land where it's presently very cold.

      The only simple solution is to kill a bunch of people. Nothing else "solves" overpopulation in a simple way. And if the chicken littles are correct, then it'll be much easier to solve that problem in ten years.

      • There are cases throughout history (and likely beyond) illustrating a particular species without natural enemies that has multiplied beyond sustainability.

        The humans have proven to be particularly resilient and resourceful, but the rather near future requires more environment in which to expand, or a whittling of the population to achieve some balance.

  • by NostalgiaForInfinity ( 4001831 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2015 @09:53AM (#51033059)

    The per-capita GDP of the Marshall Islands is $2900, very low by world standards, and it has never been a lot better. Arkansas's per capita GDP, by comparison, is $31000. That alone is ample incentive for moving. That is, even a backwater, poor state like Arkansas is still a lot better that the Marshall Islands. While Westerners have some idyllic notions of island paradise, atolls have always been risky and marginal places to live; people moved there because they didn't have any other options, and these nations have always experienced large net emigration as soon as people actually had opportunities to emigrate. In addition, many of these atolls simply are not permanent, but they are temporary features that appear and disappear over thousands of years, quite naturally, regardless of human activity.

    Also, to put this issue into perspective, all island nations of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia together make up less than 3 million people, who have always lived under impoverished conditions and always been at high risk from natural disasters. Even if global warming were to displace all of them, that would be comparable to the number displaced by a single major hydroelectric plant, like China's Three River Gorges dam.

    At this point, the discussion is also academic because sea levels are going to continue to rise, no matter what policies we adopt, so we better find places to accommodate these people. Given that places like Europe have big demographic problems, Europeans should welcome these populations with open arms. Of course, America would also benefit from their presence and I'm glad they are settling here.

    • Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia together make up less than 3 million people, who have always lived under impoverished conditions and always been at high risk from natural disasters. Even if global warming were to displace all of them....

      The problem with global warming is its not localized to atolls in the south pacific. 40% of all humans live within 100km of a coastline.

      • The problem with global warming is its not localized to atolls in the south pacific. 40% of all humans live within 100km of a coastline.

        Well, since you are changing the subject, you apparently concur as far as the Marshall Islands go.

        Now, what about those 40% that live within 100km of a coast line? They are in an entirely different situation than pacific islanders. Pacific island nations are susceptible to sea level rise because their entire nations are within a few meters of sea level and because their ent

  • Why should 1 Billion people in India give up on affordable energy and all the improvements it brings to their lives just so a few thousand people can live comfortably in the Marshall Islands?

    • China certainly thinks that it is worth displacing more than 1.5 million people for a single hydroelectric dam.

      • China certainly thinks that it is worth displacing more than 1.5 million people for a single hydroelectric dam.
        It's a big ass dam dude, it's 5 times the size of the Hoover dam and stretches for over 600 kilometers.
        Oh, and the figure I read was 1.6 million displaced, but the article was a bit old.
        • It's a big ass dam dude, it's 5 times the size of the Hoover dam and stretches for over 600 kilometers.

          The Three Gorges Dam generates about 10GW and displaced upwards of 1.5 million people. Total world energy generation from fossil fuels is about 10TW. So, if you accept the displacement of at least 1.5 million people for the Three Gorges Dam, you should be willing to accept the displacement of at least 1.5 billion people for fossil fuel consumption, right?

          Oh, and the figure I read was 1.6 million displaced,

          • It's a big ass dam dude, it's 5 times the size of the Hoover dam and stretches for over 600 kilometers.

            The Three Gorges Dam generates about 10GW and displaced upwards of 1.5 million people. Total world energy generation from fossil fuels is about 10TW. So, if you accept the displacement of at least 1.5 million people for the Three Gorges Dam, you should be willing to accept the displacement of at least 1.5 billion people for fossil fuel consumption, right?

            Oh, and the figure I read was 1.6 million displaced, but the article was a bit old.

            Hence my statement of more than 1.5 million. In fact, it's probably several million, but Chinese propaganda likes to play it down.

            For 10 TW of clean power I think that displacing 1.5 billion people is a damn bargain.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      It won't be just for a few thousand people in the Marshall Islands, it will be for themselves too. Their country and their lives are at severe risk from climate change. They are basically betting that they can develop fast enough to mitigate a lot of the problems, by industrializing and building defences before millions of them die.

      Anyway, it's not really on most of them to fix it. It's on us in the west, and those in the far east to develop clean energy so that it is cheaper than coal anyway, at which poin

      • by chihowa ( 366380 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2015 @11:04AM (#51033527)

        Anyway, it's not really on most of them to fix it. It's on us in the west, and those in the far east to develop clean energy so that it is cheaper than coal anyway, at which point they will switch to it. We are already well on the way, we just need to speed the process up.

        I apologize for being indelicate, but that line of thinking is complete bullshit. The people of India and the Far East are not some sort of subhuman animals who can't be held accountable for their actions and it's not on the West to take responsibility for fixing everybody else's problems. I absolutely abhor PC finger-wagging, but that is some of the most bigoted tripe I've read today, even if it was couched in platitudes for our Western saviors.

        • it's not on the West to take responsibility for fixing everybody else's problems.

          Too bad the west has never followed that mantra. If we hadn't been stirring the pot in the middle east for 70 years maybe we'd have an extra few $Trillion to develop renewable and nuclear energy making this whole issue a moot point. (yeah yeah, we had to fight the red menace and all but making oil worthless also might have bankrupted the soviets)

        • Anyway, it's not really on most of them to fix it. It's on us in the west, and those in the far east to develop clean energy so that it is cheaper than coal anyway, at which point they will switch to it. We are already well on the way, we just need to speed the process up.

          I apologize for being indelicate, but that line of thinking is complete bullshit. The people of India and the Far East are not some sort of subhuman animals who can't be held accountable for their actions and it's not on the West to take responsibility for fixing everybody else's problems. I absolutely abhor PC finger-wagging, but that is some of the most bigoted tripe I've read today, even if it was couched in platitudes for our Western saviors.

          Except it's mostly our actions that created the problem of global warming, it's us who have most benefited from all the industrialization that caused global warming, and as a result of that industrialization it's us who have the most wealth and technological skill to mitigate global warming.

          Yes India and the Far East will bear the brunt of the problem, but it's really our mess and we should take responsibility for fixing it.

    • by sudon't ( 580652 )

      India has a seacoast, too.

  • Damn, wish my house was that high up...

    Note that New Orleans is below Sea Level.

    • by Kohath ( 38547 )

      Obviously you should move to Arkansas.

  • I grew up near the Mississippi and watched the idiots get flooded out every year or two. Sure every once in a while it would come up to records in terms of human memories, the giant bluffs near the river attest to the water being much further inland, but it wasn't the water coming up that was causing all the "flooding" it was the people moving closer to the river.

    I'm sure the Marshall Islands are no different. More people, which means more people (especially poor people) will be trying to live near the

  • by NetNed ( 955141 )
    So are we supposed to ignore that the Marshall Islands get 160+ inches of rain a year with most falling from May to November??? Logic would tell you that it getting heavy rains and being near sea level would lend itself to flooding. Add to that tides are a result of the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun, which can only happen a maximum of twice a month, so the "more frequent" claim is utter rubbish. Is climate change changing gravity now too??? Australia has monitors all over down there and the dat

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