Year 4, Month 6, Day 20: Contending In Vain

The Sydney Morning Herald notes that island nations have more than rising seas to worry about:

The delegation of parliamentarians from four tropical Pacific Islands nations braved the Canberra cold last week, and that wasn’t the only climate shock they suffered.

They watched the impressive intellectual exchange of question time in the House of Representatives on Wednesday and then moved on. But almost as soon as they left, Parliament started to debate a motion on whether the science of man-made climate change was real. This came as a bit of a jolt to the legislator visiting from Kiribati, a country of about 100,000 people on 33 small, low-lying islands strung along 5000 kilometres of the equator.

“Climate change is real in our places,” Rimeta Beniamina, a government MP and vice-chairman of his parliament’s climate change committee, told me, expressing surprise at what was going on in the chamber a few metres away.

“A few years ago it was not taken very seriously. But now quite a few villages are experiencing hardship. Beaches are eroding, houses are falling down, crops are damaged and livelihoods are destroyed.

“The intrusion of salt water is very evident. The sea level may be rising millimetres a year, but it is still rising. The strong winds and rising tides are the worst part. Once the salt water enters the land, that’s it. Trees are falling along the coast, crops dying, pigs and chickens are affected.”

Finding the link for sending letters to the SMH was a nightmare all its own. June 5:

For Kiribati, the tiny Pacific island which now faces submergence beneath ominously rising seas, and whose entire carbon footprint is probably not much larger than that of a single wealthy Western consumer, rejecting the overwhelming evidence of global warming is an impossible absurdity. It is telling that nowhere but in the developed world do we find the institutionalized denial of climate science; nowhere but among the nations whose profligate greenhouse emissions triggered the problem in the first place.

Climate denialism is heavily underwritten by corporations with enormous economic interests built on a fossil-fuel-based economy. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been poured into the coffers of a complaisant media and political establishment to perpetuate the myth that the science of climate change “isn’t settled.” For the world’s island nations, to suggest that the reality of climate change is still an unanswered question is to add gross insult to profound injury.

Warren Senders

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