Small islands and global warming

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Small islands and rising sea!

Climate change will particularly affect small islands.

Warming and small islands

The Conference on the future of small island states met 10 14 in January in Mauritius has floor including on ways to help small island states face the inexorable rising seas linked to climate change.

"The very survival of island states is in question," says Michel Petit, a French expert.

The average sea level has already risen to 10 20 cm in a century and is expected by 2100 from 9 88 to cm, due to rising temperatures and melting glaciers and ice caps.

"When you say a meter on average, you have to multiply this number by two or three to take into account exceptional events, storms or hurricanes," recalls Jean Jouzel, French representative on the UN panel of experts on the climate. .

The islands, but deltas and coastal areas are likely to be invaded by the waters every storm or high tide. In total 200 million people could be forced to migrate by the end of the century, the region became uninhabitable, according to the latest report of the experts (2001). With adequate protection, their number could be reduced to 100 million.

islands and climate

In the longer term, the possible melting of Greenland now worries the experts. "The melting of coastal regions is already visible," says Jean Jouzel. This time it is 4 or 5 meters that the sea level could rise in 3 or 4 centuries.

"If you can protect yourself against a rise of one meter, I do not see how one can protect against 4, even 5 meters," he adds.

"Even if we completely stabilize the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (due to human activities), it does not prevent the sea level will continue to rise for centuries," says Mr. Petit.

The situation is already alarming in many islands: in February 2004, 9 the islands of the atoll of Tuvalu in the Pacific were submerged by giant tidal sometimes high of 3 meters. The highest point of the islands is 4,5 meters.

"We do not need new scientific research on the phenomenon of rising waters, we are already there," said Tuvalu Prime Minister Sopo'aga.

These past few tides tend to reproduce twice a year. Tuvalu may be forced to transfer its population (11.500 inhabitants) in New Zealand.

Isolated, dependent of an activity (such as tourism in the Maldives), small islands do not have the means of the Netherlands or France (threatened in the Camargue in particular) to defend himself.

beaches and warming

The devastating impact of the tsunami has shown the lack of preparedness of States to natural phenomena. The countries bordering the Indian Ocean did not have any warning system, unlike those of the Pacific.

Efforts to adapt to climate change are likely to be far beyond the means of small islands. The generosity provoked by the tsunami can not hide the dramatic drop in official development assistance for ten years.

"The small island developing States have seen the amount of official development assistance decline by half" (from 1994 to 2001), said the report prepared for the conference in Mauritius.

More: Small sunken islands


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