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Oceania and Global Warming - Causes and Effects

Oceania and Global Warming - Natural Disasters

Oceania and Global Warming


Not long ago, Tuvalu contained a number of beautiful islets. It is sad to have to say that many of these beautiful and enchanting islets have now gone underwater and one would have to wonder if Tuvalu will be next!

A Tuvalu Poem
Jane Resture
I hear the waves on our island shore
They sound much louder than they did before
A rising swell flecked with foam
Threatens the existence of our island home. 
A strong wind blows in from a distant place
The palm trees bend like never before
Our crops are lost to the rising sea
And water covers our humble floor.
Our people are leaving for a distant shore
And soon Tuvalu may be no more
Holding on to the things they know are true
Tuvalu my Tuvalu, I cry for you.
And as our people are forced to roam
To another land to call their home
And as you go to that place so new
Take a little piece of Tuvalu with you. 
Tuvalu culture is rare and unique
And holds a message we all should seek
Hold our culture way up high
And our beloved Tuvalu will never die.


The low-lying atoll nations of Tuvalu and Kiribati are well aware of the implications and problems resulting from the ongoing effects of global warming. Both these nations have lost already a number of their beautiful islets and the infringement of rising water levels are becoming apparent on many of the main islands and atolls. Indeed, this is a widespread problem throughout Oceania with other atoll nations such as the Marshall Islands and Tokelau Islands also in imminent danger from rising water levels. 


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It is indeed rather disappointing that the world's major industrial countries have taken no action on the serious problem of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. In this respect, one can only assume that these nations are not prepared to impose a financial cost on their industries to clean up - rather they are prepared to sacrifice the people of the world's low-lying atoll nations.

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If one looks further at Tuvalu and Kiribati, it is apparent that there will be very little ongoing support and assistance from the world's major industrial countries but rather they will have to solve these problems by themselves with the support of friends of the earth and friends of Oceania.

Funafuti lagoon, Tuvalu


The swaying palms, the gentle surf lapping upon the sand
A gentle breeze so keen to please slowly gusts across our land
Our island home is all we have known as centuries rolled by
Our island people stood alone on reefs so barren and dry.
But as years go by we wonder why the shoreline is not the same
The things we knew as always true somehow do not remain
The breakers break on higher ground - the outer palms are falling down
The taro pits begin to die and the village elders wonder why.
For what is happening to the beautiful isles we know?
Tuvalu, Kiribati and Tokelau - the Marshall isles, that place of smiles
The rising sea will reclaim our ground - nothing but water will abound
 Our people forced to leave for higher ground.
While far away they pour their fumes into the clear blue sky
Not knowing and never caring why the world is beginning to die
So land of our forebears despite how much we cared for you
The time will soon be when we must bid you adieu.

                                          Poem by Jane Resture

The options available to both these countries are quite limited. In Tuvalu, all the islands are low-lying coral atolls and one can only assume that all these islands may well be lost over the next 40-50 years. In saying this, it is recognized that an island becomes "lost" long before the water level covers the island but rather at the point where the rising water level gets into the food chain rendering the traditional crops such as babai or taro, breadfruit, bananas, etc. inedible.

Tuvalu would appear to have repatriation as its primary option although some form of retaining walls around the capital, Funafuti, had been mooted. In this respect, one has to consider the possibility that New Zealand who has, to her credit, accepted many island people will, in due course, not be able to accept further migration from island countries. It can only be assumed that there is a possibility that the Tuvaluan people will have to look at further destinations rather than New Zealand.

One of Tuvalu's enchanting islets!

Kiribati, on the other hand, does have a number significant land masses that will not be adversely affected by rising water levels. These include Christmas (Kiritimati) Island and Fanning Island which are quite habitable as well as  Banaba which is not. In this respect, the recent decision by the Kiribati Government to seek support from New Zealand, Australia and Great Britain for the construction of a commercial airfield on Banaba may in the longer term be a very sound one.

In this respect, it may be necessary to consider the possible rehabilitation of Banaba as a possible home for a number of Kiribati people. It may also be worth mentioning that the recent decision to rehabilitate the phosphate mining areas on a plateau called "topside" at Nauru may be eminently sensible in providing the Nauruan people with the higher level vantage point necessary to ensure the ongoing survival of Nauru beyond the impact of rising water levels.

Aerial view of Nauru

The recent decision by the Pacific Island Government of Tuvalu to commence legal proceedings against countries responsible for greenhouse emissions including Australia can only highlight the fact that there is a huge division between the industrialized nations and the island nations of Oceania. In this respect, one can only reiterate that the problems of global warming in Oceania will need to be solved by the people of Oceania along with the friends of the earth and the many friends of Oceania.


Oceania and Global Warming - Causes and Effects

Oceania and Global Warming - Natural Disasters

Oceania and Global Warming

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(E-mail: -- Rev. 9th May 2012)