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Earth Government

How To Lead a Nation That's About To Be Swallowed By the Sea 289

merbs writes: Anote Tong, the president of low-lying Kiribati, has spent nearly a decade trying to save his people from rising sea levels. There's a good chance he will not succeed. This is how he leads a nation that will likely not exist in 100 years. Motherboard reports: "Kiribati’s fate provides a rare glimpse of the future world under climate change. The tiny island nation is the canary in our global coal mine, and it will bear the brunt of climate change more intensely and much sooner than nearly anywhere else. 'We cannot keep doing what we are doing,' Tong said. 'Because we may be on the front line today, but other countries, other societies, other communities will be next.'"
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How To Lead a Nation That's About To Be Swallowed By the Sea

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  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Sunday December 06, 2015 @03:58PM (#51068555)
    hey, it worked in the movies.
  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday December 06, 2015 @04:07PM (#51068593) Homepage Journal

    I hear some of these low-lying nations are spending what money they have to buy land in other countries... so they can pick up their people and move there. I guess they're also buying agreements to take on their citizens, but that'll be kind of hard to enforce, eh? Without a country or anything, that is.

    • by bazorg ( 911295 )

      Indeed. In wealthy regions or those that (theoretically) are living in long periods of peace, it is challenging but "interesting" to think Where do we put a few million Dutch? in Germany? In a New-New-Zealand bought from Sweden or Spain?

      In poorer regions, it will be a nightmare. Bangladesh is growing fast beyond the current 160M. Even before climate change driven disasters, they already suffer a lot from flooding. Imagine a large % of those 160M+ people need relocating. Terrible stuff - they should be talki

      • by mikael ( 484 )

        Bangladesh is begging foreign countries to take their surplus population. They have literally exceeded their land carrying capacity.

  • It is not the first time a population has to move because of adverse climate effects. It happened all the time through the history of humanity. The only thing different here, is someone believes we can avoid this by some actions because this is caused by our own actions. As far as I know, no one has proven yet this is actually possible. Our climatic models are overfitting the data and are then poor at predicting the future.
    • When I read these stories they're always set in the tone of some poor victims who's home is being taken from them by the big bad white man. A lot of these nations are poor, so a free ticket to a wealthier country is a big win for a lot of them.
      For the generation that move it moight be tough, but for their children they will have access to far greater health, education and career opportunities previously unknown to them.
    • by unimacs ( 597299 )
      I doubt anyone believes than anything can be reversed in time to help that particular country.

      There's plenty of proof that human actions can dramatically alter our environment. Just look at the Aral sea for example.

      Personally I believe we should be acting on the best scientific information we have. It's not perfect and we are learning more all the time, but institutions like NASA have sent probes to then ends of the solar system, have landed a rover on Mars, and returned people from space. I trust the
      • by chipschap ( 1444407 ) on Sunday December 06, 2015 @05:04PM (#51068881)

        I believe we should be acting on the best scientific information we have.

        I couldn't agree more. We should act on scientific information, not the politics of wealth and not the politics of guilt. And the science should itself remain independent and untainted by politics (otherwise it isn't really science).

        I am willing to accept whatever unbiased science tells me. If I don't like that answer, too bad for me. It is what it is.

        • by unimacs ( 597299 )
          Like I said we should be making decisions based on the best science we have. I'm sure it will be always easy to argue that the science is somehow tainted when it favors the opinion of people you generally disagree with.
    • It is not the first time a population has to move because of adverse climate effects. It happened all the time through the history of humanity.

      Plot twist : there's nowhere else to go now, because of the 7+ billion humans.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Throughout the history of the Earth, its crust has constantly been recycled. Areas once above the ground and above the sea have descended downward and have been replaced with new land. This will continue to occur. Just as Kiribati and the Maldives are descending into the sea, other islands are being born by volcanoes. The Himalayas were once under water, including the peaks of mountains like Everest, at the bottom of the Tethys Ocean. Sea levels have risen and dropped by over 100 meters in the past. There's

  • by TheRealHocusLocus ( 2319802 ) on Sunday December 06, 2015 @04:53PM (#51068827)

    Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level: Christmas Island I [psmsl.org]
    Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level: Christmas Island II [psmsl.org]

    Spot the clear blub blub trend, Try hard. ~1mm rise per year. Maybe.
    Meanwhile a typhoon could arrive next year with a 8 foot storm surge that swamps the atolls completely.

    DISCLAIMER: Grew up in the Caribbean, nailed doors shut from the inside and held on tight for Hugo and Marilyn. People died. '~1mm/yr climate refugees' on a coral atoll really sound like whiny scammers to me. In terms of threat level it's like that movie, Frogs.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Bruce Perens ( 3872 )
      1 mm per year is one foot in 300 years. It's completely plausible that a one foot change could swamp major parts of the United States, not to mention Pacific islands. And they'd feel the effects long before then.
      • by alantus ( 882150 )

        1 mm per year is one foot in 300 years. It's completely plausible that a one foot change could swamp major parts of the United States, not to mention Pacific islands. And they'd feel the effects long before then.

        No, 1 mm per year is 0.984252 foot in 300 years.
        If only there was an easier and more consistent way to convert and express measurements...

        If humanity can't even agree on a measurement system, how are we supposed to make the required compromises on global warming issues?

    • I think there actually appears to be a downward trend in both of those time periods. Certainly not a 1-6 foot rise by the end of the century.
  • by wisnoskij ( 1206448 ) on Sunday December 06, 2015 @05:00PM (#51068859) Homepage

    I guess Caligula had it right, he was just 2000 years ahead of his time.

  • by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Sunday December 06, 2015 @05:15PM (#51068927)

    We just had this topic a few days ago [slashdot.org]. Are these stories supposed to convince us that billions of people around the world should give up on affordable energy for the convenience of thousands living on Pacific atolls? Does India owe it to Kiribati to keep the Indian people artificially poor for another half century until non-carbon energy is cheap enough?

    If not, then what's the point? "Kiribati leaders feel sad about what they think will happen in 50 years"? Lots of people who tell themselves sad stories (whether true, false, or unknown) about the future feel sad about it.

    • It's not just Kiribati that is affected by rising sea level. All along the US East Coast and Gulf Coast will be affected. Just ask the people of Miami,FL and Norfolk, VA about nuisance flooding which is only going to get worse as sea level continues to rise. The US West Coast is affected too but geography makes it less of a problem over the short one.

      • by Kohath ( 38547 )

        Yes. But the point is "what about Kiribati's future?" isn't a persuasive argument for millions or billions of people changing anything significant. If you want to say millions or billions of people should change for their own good, then say that instead.

        Incidentally, I'm also not super sympathetic to rich coastal dwellers with beach houses.

        • Kiribati is history. All they can do is leave. There will probably be 20 or 30 feet of sea level rise over the next several centuries. That's the minimum of how long it will take the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets to reach a new equilibrium. The last time CO2 was 400 ppm sea level was over 60 feet higher than now. It's not just the rich in Miami and Norfolk that are being affected.

      • Not really. Most of South Florida was ORIGINALLY low-lying, but AFAIK, it hasn't been legal to build a new structure whose main living floor isn't at least several feet above sea level since at least 1926. Our roads don't flood because of rising sea levels, they flood because our county government is criminally incompetent and doesn't maintain storm drains properly.

  • Without Kiribati, Gillespie will have to move his Amelia Earhart search/scam to another island...

  • Sea-level threat? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jdagius ( 589920 ) on Sunday December 06, 2015 @05:26PM (#51068981)

    Sure, when you live on an island barely six feet above sea level, passing hurricanes have threatened (and have succeeded in the past) to wipe these islands clean. But the threat of sea level changes, which have been slowly rising since the last Ice Age, is moot because, in recent times, most of these Pacific atolls have grown in size, due to increasing biomass of growing coral.
    http://news.nationalgeographic... [nationalgeographic.com]

    Cutting emissions, IMHO, will have no observable effect on these islands. But I can't blame the natives, though, for trying to get the rich nations of the world to give them free transport to higher and safer havens.

    • It's probably too late for emissions cuts to save Kiribati (or Miami, FL for that matter) but the sooner emissions are cut the less overall sea level rise there will be. The last time CO2 levels were 400 ppm sea level was over 60 feet higher than it is now. It may be that there's already that much sea level rise baked in and it's just a matter of how long it takes to get there.

  • First of all:

    1) Climate Change is a natural response to the Earth's ability to support life.To thwart the Earths ability to prevent or adapt either through increasing the surface area of the oceans as compared to land, or through geoengineering projects more than likely will destroy the biosphere.

    Contrary to what these scientists will tell you, shining a heat lamp on a beaker filled with CO2, although a useful experiment, is not exactly the same as a 4 billion year old Biosphere, created through wholly unkn

  • heartfelt (Score:4, Funny)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Sunday December 06, 2015 @05:48PM (#51069083) Journal

    My thoughts and prayers go out to the Kiribati, because that's all they're gonna get and I ain't fucking giving up my giant SUV. No way.

  • For those that believe that climate change is a liberal conspiracy to keep India poor, this is an excellent opportunity to buy out an entire country from a motivated seller.

  • Choose what to keep and build up. Their real problem is their inaccessibility and their failure to spin that as 'exclusivity'. They need a marketing guy and an invasion of rich people and pretenders in order to have the revenue needed to use their existing islands as the future foundations of some of the worlds most exclusive resorts.
  • If the island will be uninhabitable in 100 years, when the global water level, if trends continue, will be 1 foot higher, then that pretty much means it is uninhabitable now. Get out now while you still can.

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