Friday, October 27, 2006

Climate change: resettlement?

United Future's Gordon Copeland is calling on the government to develop a resettlement plan to help Pacific peoples affected by rising sea levels due to climate change, pointing out that

At present there is very little planning in place for the resettlement of people from low-lying countries such as the Tokelaus, Tuvalu and Kiribati, which are all likely to disappear in the event of a rise in sea-levels.

He's not joking about this. Tuvalu is mostly underwater every spring tide now, the highest point of Tokelau is a mere two metres above the high tide mark, and Kiribati is in the same boat. If sea levels rise by the amount they are expected to, 110,000 people are going to need a new home. And so far, we take a mere 75 people a year from Kiribati and Tuvalu under stringent conditions as part of the Pacific Access Category.

In the case of Tokelau, we have a special responsibility. While moving towards self-government, it is still part of New Zealand, and each and every Tokelauan is a New Zealand citizen, as kiwi as you or I. They thus have an absolute right to come here. More importantly, if Gisborne suddenly disappeared beneath the waves, the government would spare no effort in resettling its inhabitants and ensuring they could make a new start. We can do no less for Tokelau if the worst happens.

In the case of Tuvalu and Kiribati, the argument is a simple humanitarian one: they need our help. Australia is unwilling to take them (hell, they're happy to let people drown if it means they won't change the average skin tone of their fine, white nation), so as the only other country in the South Pacific capable of doing so, we will have to.


Thanks for this post I/S. I was wondering what Gore was referring to when he mentioned that some people from the South Pacific had already been relocated to NZ in An Incovenient Truth and you've just illuminated me.

Posted by Span : 10/27/2006 07:47:00 AM

I'd be most happy with a free movement and settlement arrangement of people between the Pacific nations, like the EU has, rather than the ad hoc quota and temporary work permits, with all the overstayer hassle that entails. As New Zealanders we're happy to escape our winter there so we should be happy to provide shelter for those in geo-physical need.

Posted by Hans Versluys : 10/27/2006 02:00:00 PM

Before we start reserving emergency hotel accommadation, exactly what is the CURRENT, OBSERVED (as opposed to the predicted, anally-extracted statistics) per-year rise in sea-levels?


Posted by Anonymous : 10/27/2006 02:15:00 PM

A reference to current rates is beside the point Gerrit, and you either don't know it, or are willfully ignoring the fact.

These processes are runaway, and depend on tipping points i.e., once Greenland and Antartica get over a certain temperature you can wave goodbye to all CURRENT, OBSERVED rates.

Oh, and go see An Inconvenient Truth. Even if you disagree with the evidence it presents, you'll at least know where I'm coming from, and the sense of alarm I feel .

Posted by Anonymous : 10/27/2006 03:52:00 PM

Whoops, that was for M'Lud - blog comments mixed up.

Terribly sorry!

Posted by Anonymous : 10/27/2006 03:53:00 PM