Hair Club for MenJune 4, 2010
Paul Kench at the University of Auckland in New Zealand and Arthur Webb at the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission in Fiji used historical aerial photos and high-resolution satellite images to study changes in the land surface of 27 Pacific islands over the last 60 years. During that time, local sea levels have risen by 120 millimetres, or 2 millimetres per year on average.
Despite this, Kench and Webb found that just four islands have diminished in size since the 1950s. The area of the remaining 23 has either stayed the same or grown (Global and Planetary Change, DOI: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2010.05.003).
This is all very interesting given Tuvalu’s shenanigans at COP 15.
At its highest point, Tuvalu stands just 4.5 metres out of the Pacific. It is widely predicted to be one of the first islands to drown in the rising seas caused by global warming. Yet Arthur Webb and Paul Kench found that seven islands in one of its nine atolls have spread by more than 3 per cent on average since the 1950s. One island, Funamanu, gained 0.44 hectares, or nearly 30 per cent of its previous area.
Holy smokes. That’s pretty interesting. Turns out, climate change is good for you. Which raises a further very interesting point: what if it is good for you, or at least good for many or most? I pose that question, among similar such conundra, to my students at least once a semester.
Seems to me that it doesn’t make one silly bit of difference if it results in a net gain or a net loss for humanity; or for life; or for the earth, however conceived. Seems to me that we still should be concerned with our actions, and that climate change serves basically as a proxy for concerns about reckless behavior.