Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Global warming: the signs are clear to see

Big waves pounding Tuvalu during King Tide (BBC pic)

Have you ever seen a Foreign Minister of a nation pleading to foreigners to save his nation? Well, that’s what I saw on the BBC News on television this morning.

The Foreign Minister concerned was from the island nation of Tuvalu. He was lamenting the fact that his nation could well and truly be submerged under the Pacific Ocean in, give or take, 15 year’s time. That’s right. Submerged, as in wiped off from the surface of the earth!

Tuvalu is group of nine tiny islands and atolls in the South Pacific, midway between Australia and Hawaii. Its highest elevation is just five meters (about 16 ft) above sea level. So this makes the nation very vulnerable to sea level rise.

However, this is compounded by the fact that Tuvalu is also affected by what is known as a King Tide. This refers to the highest tides of the year in Tuvalu, which can raise the sea level higher than a normal high tide. When this happens, waves would inundate the islands leaving behind a trail of destruction.

That would be the normal, annual, scenario. But just imagine what the King Tide could do to poor Tuvalu if the sea level rises as a result of global warming.

This year’s King Tide has already shown what the effects of global warming are having onto this small island nation. The tides are much higher than in previous years and a much greater part of the islands are now affected by flooding. Thus the plea by Tuvalu’s Foreign Minister. So one can fully understand when the leaders of this tiny nation start worrying for their future existence.

The question is: what is the international community going to do in the light of this plea? Indeed, what about the fight to control global climate change?

The biggest polluters – who are also some of the biggest economies in the world – should chip in to save a drowning community. Even if they have not signed (and in the case of USA, have no intention of ratifying) the international protocol for reducing Greenhouse gases, at least they should have some sense of moral responsibility.

Or, better still, just go ahead and sign the Kyoto Protocol. Rising temperatures, unpredictable weather patterns, droughts, you name it, the signs of global warming are everywhere for us to see. So, just do it!

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