Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Reference: Putting climate change refugees on the map, Bangkok Post, November 20, 2007

The Kiribati and Tuvalu islands are atolls. Atolls form when volcanic islands begin to sink by subduction and remain as long as the coral growth exceeds the rate of sinking and sink when the rate of sinking exceeds the rate of coral growth. Sinking and flooding of atolls is a common and natural phenomenon and is not caused by rising sea levels or by greenhouse gas emissions. If rising sea level were the cause all the atolls in the sea would be affected uniformly, not just a select few. Since only a few atolls are flooding and other similar atolls are not, we may conclude that the evacuees are subduction refugees and not global warming refugees.

Bangladesh consists of a delta into which drain major rivers that flow through India. In recent years, dams built upstream by the Indians have reduced the amount of water that flows into the delta. The effect of the reduction in water flow is clearly visible all over the country in the form of sand spits in once mighty rivers as well as deeper encroachment of brackish water into tidal canals in southern Bangladesh. These phenomena are not related in any way to global warming or the emission of greenhouse gases.

The part of Africa where Darfur is located is a semi arid area that has been subjected to periods of tragic droughts for thousands of years. The current drought there as well as that in Australia which ended this year are natural phenomena. They are not caused by greenhouse gases and have nothing whatsoever to do with the global warming issue. The victims are drought refugees or perhaps genocide refugees but not climate change refugees.

Shishmaref, Alaska is a fishing village on the sea that is often subject to very high tides as well as to severe storms and high waves. When these two events coincide, the sea can encroach up to 40 feet inland and devastate homes and other man-made structures. Such a coincidence did occur on November 21, 2003 and one home was in fact washed into the sea. The entire community was devastated and they do need help to recover from this tragedy. Yet, it was a natural event and it cannot in any way be related to greenhouse gases, rising seas, or global warming.

Incidentally, even though the IPCC has been predicting rising sea levels for a number of years no actual increase in sea level has yet been recorded. Also, after the devastation by Hurricane Katrina, the IPCC projected worse Atlantic hurricanes to come in the 2006 season due to increases in greenhouse gases. It did not happen. After a period of silence on the subject of Atlantic hurricanes, they issued a forecast in April 2007 that the 2007 hurricane season would be so severe that it would settle the global warming issue in their favor once and for all. That did not happen either. In fact, the entire IPCC case against greenhouse gases rests on forecasts that are so far in the future that they are yet to be proven wrong. All of their short term forecasts have come to naught.

Cha-am Jamal

No comments: