Global warming threatens more than just coral

Mar 03, 2008
Dr Weisler
Dr Weisler

Rising sea levels from global warming will threaten the livelihoods and homes of more than 200,000 people who live on coral atolls in coming generations.

The warning comes from UQ archaeologist and expert on the prehistoric use of coral atolls, Dr Marshall Weisler, who says the Central Pacific islands of Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands as well as the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, are most at risk.

Dr Weisler said the situation was more serious than people realised with agricultural land already being lost to rising seas in the Marshall Islands.

“People have shown me where there used to be gardens, are now lagoons. There are coconut trees that are 20 metres off shore, half falling over,” Dr Weisler said.

“In Kiribati, there are high tides that inundate portions of villages, so people are on dry land in the morning and on stilt house villages with water under their house during high lunar tides.

“There are very serious problems for the next generation which may not even be able to live on the island that they are living on now.”

The International Panel on Climate Change has predicted sea levels could rise between nine and 88 centimetres this century.

Atolls are at risk because they are small, coral islands barely metres above current sea levels.

Dr Weisler said predicting sea level rises was complex as waters could rise by different levels and have different effects, depending on the atoll location.

He said island nations would face tough decisions in the future about land ownership, economic futures and relocating entire countries within other nations.

“In Kiribati, where is the next generation going to live?” he said.

Dr Weisler said he hoped Japan's Ministry of Environment would continue to fund further studies into the sustainability of reef islands.

He spoke about the prehistoric history of coral atolls at a sustainable atoll management conference at the University of Tokyo last month with some of Japan's leading coral atoll experts.

The group recommended there be more study into the adaptive capacity of atoll islands, more modelling on atoll development and more public awareness of the current situation.

“The people on these islands have a small voice because they are not Western industrialised countries with high populations. People aren't paying attention to them,” Dr Weisler said.

Source: University of Queensland

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User comments : 5

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Al_Fin
3.2 / 5 (6) Mar 03, 2008
Climate change is quickly becoming a rather disreputable and fringe area of science, and this article does nothing to correct that.

This article is not sourced properly. The University of Queensland is an institution, not a source. Please provide clickable sources for your press release articles.

Dr. Weisler may be an eminent archaeologist, but he clearly is in no position to speak authoritatively about what sea levels will or will not be doing over the next few hundred years.

This type of article gives physorg.com a black eye in terms of quality of science reporting.
niftyswell
2.8 / 5 (5) Mar 03, 2008
As long as it predicts a dire future where humans threaten the earth then who cares about the source? I just wonder how any of these plants/animals/creatures survived the last few quick and violent climate change events that have been documented? Favorite quote from the story-
'The International Panel on Climate Change has predicted sea levels could rise between nine and 88 centimetres this century.' Thank god they didnt note a decrease in sea level then we would be dealing with the loss of living space for sea creatures and receding oceans wiping out coral and trying to figure out what to do about that!
bigwheel
3.4 / 5 (5) Mar 03, 2008
bla bla enough of these articles, conjecture is not science
mikiwud
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 04, 2008
100s of millions of LIVES are already threatened by the rise in cost and drop in volume of food production caused by the AGW scam.If the turndown in global temperature continues it will get worse and we are looking in the wrong direction for solutions(i.e. Bio-fuels).
It has been show that some of these atolls are rising and some sinking and that change in sea levels has little to do with it.
DrPhysics
3 / 5 (4) Mar 04, 2008
The GW corporation, and make no mistake it is a big business, has as its agenda separating you from your money. How many studies did he want funded? And for what purposes? Useless, just useless.