View Full Version : Sinking Islands

Jim H
12-17-2002, 04:20 PM
I went for a hair cut this morning, picked up the Dec. issue of Outside magazine while I was waiting and read one of the best articles on the Tuvalu Island chain I've seen to date:

From Page 1:
"Tepuka Savilivili is just a sign," Sam says, "but the signs are everywhere." The seas, it seems, are heating up, and therefore rising, and Tuvalu's leaders have warned their population of fishermen and farmers and merchant seamen to brace for a contagion of shrinking and sinking. Other islets in Funafuti's lagoon have lost up to 80 percent of their land in recent years.
Tuvalu Toodle-oo (http://outsideonline.com/outside/features/200212/200212_tuvalu_1.html)

[ 12-17-2002, 06:28 PM: Message edited by: JimHillman ]

Alan D. Hyde
12-17-2002, 04:34 PM
There is increasing evidence that "global warming" is not necessarily occurring, and that, if it is occurring, it is not most likely happening as the proximate result of human activity.

If we had believed and acted upon the "precautionary principle" that certain extreme "environmentalists" advocate, then many of our fathers would not have returned alive from World War II, and many of us would not be here (penicillin and sulfa drugs).

In this enormously complex and interdependent world, it takes plenty of vanity and disregard for appropriate scientific restraint to cavalierly assign causes and effects as this glib author has done.


Jim H
12-17-2002, 04:35 PM
Did you read the entire article??

12-17-2002, 04:38 PM
Geese, Allan, just when the White House Science Advisor starts talking about all the evidence that points to a problem with global warming....


Alan D. Hyde
12-17-2002, 04:55 PM
I went back and read some more pages; the format makes it hard to read quickly, so I didn't read the whole thing.

My comments on the author's glibness were probably hasty and unfair to him.

My views on global warming as an issue remain as stated in the above post.


Jim H
12-17-2002, 05:47 PM
O.K. it was not fair to make you read the article in that format, I read the article in a magazine so it was easier to follow. I do beleive that it is worth reading from beginning to end. My point is that this is not your typical "Bash America first, bash America again and bash America last" article.

From Page 3:"Prime Minister Talake, however, was bracingly frank about the value to Tuvalu of playing the annihilation-by-global-warming card. He stunned one of my colleagues in the Tuvalu Press Corps by stressing, again and again, that the expense of mounting a legal challenge to the United States and Australia could be justified on practical grounds. "You've got to spend money to make money," he declared.
In short order, then, I came closer to understanding at least one dimension of Paani Laupepa's motives in regard to the press, generally, and to me, in particular. "You might come in handy," Tuvalu's designated enviro-flack told me one morning. "How rich are the readers of your magazine? Very rich? We want to reach the super-rich. Put my name and e-mail in your article in case some of your readers are interested in helping us. If this publicity leads to sympathy and assistance, that's the fallout-the collateral advantage. We'll take it."
Tuvalu may have been sinking, but not as fast as my hopes for a tidy glimpse at the perils of global warming.

From Page 7:"Dozens of casual conversations with Tuvaluans who aren't associated with the government yield little concern about rising seas. Many, like Teagai Apelu, an 85-year-old curmudgeon who is regarded as the leading guardian of Tuvalu's oral storytelling traditions, are outright scornful of the notion. "There's no change in sea level," he tells me. "It's rumors. It's lies. It's always been the same. When it's high tide, salt gets in the gardens. When storms come, the sand gets washed away in one place and shows up somewhere else. It's foolish to say Tuvalu will disappear!"
Government officials caution me not to heed the backward views of the people. "Tuvaluans will hide their real feelings when talking to a stranger," Paani Laupepa tells me. "They don't want to admit defeat." Further, he says, 98 percent of his countrymen are devout Christians who take God's word for it when he promises Noah that the big flood will not repeat itself. Yet after mass at the Tuvalu Christian Church one Sunday, Pastor Molikao Kaua, a diminutive 76-year-old whose blue eyes are so cloudy they seem to be made of smoked glass, tells me that he has made one thing clear to his congregants. "If there is a flood," he says, "it comes from man, not from God."

If. Not far from the wharf in Fongafale, a small fiberglass hut suspended over some pilings houses a state-of-the-art sea-level gauge installed by an Australian institute called the National Tidal Facility. Since 1991, the gauge has detected a rise in the waters around Tuvalu of less than a millimeter per year, which is more than a hair but a lot less than a flood. The Australians attribute the unusual high tides that have been observed by some Tuvaluans to a natural tidal cycle in the region that repeats every 18.6 years and is yet to peak. They also point out that the most dramatic recent changes in sea level have actually been decreases, like the astounding one-foot drop that occurred after the enormous pool of warmed-up seawater caused by 1998's El Ni-o migrated from the western Pacific to the eastern Pacific."

Has global warming beome it's own industry?

[ 12-17-2002, 05:48 PM: Message edited by: JimHillman ]

12-17-2002, 06:00 PM
Well having read the whole thing, it's clear that the article doesn't support the idea of global warming, and indeed what's going on is a prelude to a shakedown of the western world. The hard data is on page seven, if you bother to get that far. Not to mention evidence of the damage islanders have done to themselves. To quote:

"The Australians attribute the unusual high tides that have been observed by some Tuvaluans to a natural tidal cycle in the region that repeats every 18.6 years and is yet to peak. They also point out that the most dramatic recent changes in sea level have actually been decreases, like the astounding one-foot drop that occurred after the enormous pool of warmed-up seawater caused by 1998's El Ni-o migrated from the western Pacific to the eastern Pacific."

But, let's not spoil the fun, or our knee-jerk leftist environmentalist hatred of the Western world, by looking at any facts. Take a look at my response to the faulty logic in the other global warming thread (Ice Age?) to see more bad science/propaganda at work. But even the White House has confirmed global warming, you say! (Really, houses can talk now?) Oh, you mean the president- hmm, could politics be involved? Is it anything but lip service? But the whole thing is really all politics and money anyway, and the issue will only go away when the next ice age comes, a result of solar cycles, not mankind. Thank god my kids go to a private school where they're taught to think, not just regurgitate the current liberal fashion. Rant, rant, rant!! ;) :eek:

Jim H
12-17-2002, 06:09 PM
One thing I should mention. I had a subscription to "Outside" when it first came out. After a few issues I realized, IMHO, it's aimed at an audience of bored rich kids. Oh, it writes about activities that anyone can do with a few bucks and some time to spare, but it concentrates it's artricles on those activities in remote and exotic locals that cost big $$ to get to. What I have always liked about the magazine is it's writing, not the tone of the writing (after all consider the audience) but the content. This article is a good example, you get hear from more than one voice, you get all sides. There is no "in your face", "shove it down your throat", "and if you don't parrot my beliefs you are an uninformed idiot" to the article.

That's all, I'm tired of the constant pissing contests. I put the article there for discussion, not a troll, not to start an argument. Read it, don't read it, whatever.

Jim H
12-17-2002, 06:13 PM
Originally posted by Conrad S.:
Not to mention evidence of the damage islanders have done to themselves.
Not quite, we do have some responsibility to the islanders:

From Page 9:
"Latasi, who is known as "the old warrior," was driven from the highest office in 1996 when he insisted on removing the Union Jack from Tuvalu's flag. He is a staunch nationalist who would prefer that the government focus its efforts on planting coconut trees, improving schools, and restoring some of Tuvalu's peaceful life, rather than on getting caught up in international affairs. "When I was prime minister," he says, standing by the above-ground concrete tomb of his father beside his front porch, "I was very strong on suing the U.S. and the British for damage they did to us during the Second World War. But why are we trying to do this new lawsuit?"

We did build a base and caused some enviromental damage while doing so. I don't see why we could not help them repair the damage if it's possible. At the very least help them relocate if that's what they want.

[ 12-17-2002, 06:25 PM: Message edited by: JimHillman ]

12-17-2002, 06:34 PM
Jeeze, Jim- lighten up! What's funny here is exactly what you identify- global warming has become an industry. The author even plays to this and his audience by delaying the information relevent to the implied "hook" of the story- that a poor island nation is being ruined by western civilization. It turns out that's not the case, and the real story is that the world's fourth smallest country has figured out a plan to economically improve its self by being a player in the new "global warming industry." But you know what will happen along the way- even now, I'll bet you dollars and doughnuts many who have been exposed to the story are telling their friends about the poor little country of peace loving natives being washed away by the cruel ocean, a direct consequence of the wicked West's industrial wealth. Blah, blah, blah!! What's really being erroded is respect for the truth and honest science, the misleading of the many for the gain of a few. Should we sit quietly by, and pretend we don't notice?

12-17-2002, 09:02 PM
I actually do know some Tuvaluans. They have two sources of income, nationally; sale of fishing rights to Japan and Taiwan and seamen's wages remitted to their families. There is no other source of income. I repeat - there is NO other source of income.

The islands are very hard to get to and from - go to Fiji and wait for the fortnightly boat, which was provided by the evil British government a few years back (some friends at our local ship delivery company took her out, the longest ship delivery ever.)

Very big men, natural seamen, tend to eat too much sugar and tend to become obese, tend to enjoy drinking to excess, enjoy a good fight, very hard workers. Fond of pigs. Religious. Nice people. But remote archipelagos are hard to live in these days.

Tuvalu is said to be the Queen's favourite place, of all the places she has visited.

gunnar I am
12-17-2002, 09:15 PM
Alan,What would be so bad about erring in favor of the environment? Then there is the fact, oil is a non renewable resource and , hopefully , there will be generations that succeed us.

Wayne Jeffers
12-17-2002, 10:02 PM

There's no money to be made by "erring in favor of the environment."

We can pi** away $100 billion on an ABM system that hasn't a snowball's chance in he** of working, but the expense of reasonable stewardship of the environment is just too much to bear. :rolleyes:


[ 12-17-2002, 10:05 PM: Message edited by: Wayne Jeffers ]

12-18-2002, 04:38 PM
Acutally ACB, Tuvalu has another source of income these days: sales of ".tv" domain names. The government of Tuvalu has an arrangement with some domain name authority and derives income from it, but I don't know how much of it trickles down to their local economy.

12-18-2002, 05:38 PM
That's nice, Meerkat. I can say on the basis of second hand experience (a friend was the Principal of the sea chool there for some years) and a little first hand experience of individual Tuvaluans, including the Prime Minister, in the late 80's, that the other two income streams "trickle" pretty well. Tuvalu is just too small for anyone to try dipping their hands in the income stream - this is a nation about as big as my home town (10,000 people). There's no space for funny business.

Terry Etapa
12-18-2002, 09:26 PM
Ah Tuvalu, a tropical paradise, NOT! I went there as tourist last spring. SWMBO and I were the only tourists in the country. I only saw Funafuti. So, my observations are a bit tainted (it's a trash dump).

As far as income, they have 4 sources
1 - seaman sending home money
2 - fishing rights
3 - .tv domain name
4 - grants from the Kiwi's & Aussie's

Don't know much about the seamen. Had drinks with two of the players from a German shipping line.

We had dinner several evening with an Aussie food economist and, member of the Australian Navy (fisheries patrol). The fishing rights bring in cash and, take away food. The people of Tuvalu once had all the food they needed. Due to overfishing, they now import canned tuna! We went on a diving trip thinking that someplace so remote must have untouched reefs. Well, there ain't no fish in Tuvalu.

Then there is .tv. It's being administered my Verisign. Flew in with their lobbist and, spent several evening with him. Big bucks in, no environmental damage.

We stayed at the same guest house as a Kiwi & Aussie working grants. Quite a bit of money goes into all pacific islands in the form of grants.

Tuvalu is in trouble. The reasons are many. Is it global warming? Overfishing? Lack of fresh water? I can't say. I do know it is a typical pacific island with all the problems of similar island nations.

As far as that article in Outside, it's right on the money.

Oh yeah, they have a wooden boat builder on the island. I was never able to find him (long story). At one point, I counted 14 red, blue & yellow wood skiffs moored all in a row.

Another aside, my vacation would have been a complete bust if it hadn't been for the Australian Navy and, their air compressor. Thank you Australia.

[ 12-19-2002, 12:40 AM: Message edited by: Terry Etapa ]

12-18-2002, 09:29 PM
Hmmm, maybe Tuvalu is the next Easter Island?