Sunday, April 11, 2010

Climate Change Refugees - Tuvalu

Well in the face of climate change there have been a number of news pieces on climate change refugees. This social injustice intrigued me and I wanted to see whether there was anything I could do as an individual to assist such people. After a little research and reading a book on Tuvalu, which is said to be one of the first island nations to be impacted upon as a result of sea level rise and associated climate change events here are some of my thoughts.

I don't think I am any wiser, but perhaps just a little more educated on my ignorance. From reading the book on Tuvalu it seems that this island isn't actually going to become uninhabitable as a result of sea level rise in the first instance, but rather the inundation of their groundwater by sea water and thus their land becoming inappropriate for the agricultural purposes. Storm events with associated large storm surges are also likely to impact on the margins of the island. All leading to the population of this nation needing to move to other locations.

In the face of this certainty, some Tuvaluans are looking to opportunities outside their nation now rather than waiting for significant events to force their departure from their nation. Many are currently looking to New Zealand for employment opportunities, but those that are unskilled or want to remain in their homes, it is likely that forced migration may be the only option.

Other things that I have learnt from my research and may discuss at a later date on this blog, include:

  • some refugee activists, researchers and government bodies do not like the term 'climate change refugee'. Reasons range from the fact that refugee organisations and funding bodies can't cope with the types of refugees that they currently have to deal with without adding more people to this stretched system;
  • forced migration rather than climate change refugees is another term which has been used and perhaps is more appropriate without unduly burdening existing systems;
  • there are a multitude of attitudes from the people that occupy climate change stricken countries to leaving their nations;
  • climate change in regards to sea level rise and associated impacts is likely to affect a significant portion of the world's population, but in majority of cases people that will be impacted upon will be citizens of the third world;
  • contributors to climate change impacts are in most cases from first world countries.
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