The Catastrophic Impact of Rising Oceans on the Pacific Islands

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The Catastrophic Impact of Rising Oceans on the Pacific Islands

All over the world indigenous communities are faced with an array of new problems, though the public continues to gain insight into the lives of these people they continue to be marginalized in the global arena as well. The Pacific Islands are an entity far removed from the minds of most westerners. The primary focus of any political discourse within the United States places most emphasis on Australia and New Zealand ignoring the smaller less politically salient states. However, it is these smaller islands that will bare the brunt of one huge problem in the future, global warming. For the purpose of this paper I will ignore the polemics of global warming and not
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Not only have increased temperatures been noticed on dry-land but also in the oceans, which is even more frightening. It is worse because the oceans absorb a lot of the atmospheric heat if it weren’t for that the land temperatures would be even higher. And with the polar ice caps receding the mean oceanic sea level is also rising.

Speaking strictly in terms of the next hundred years the islands with the lowest altitudes are of greatest concern in regard to swelling oceans. Low-lying island states and atolls are especially vulnerable to climate change and associated sea-level rise because in many cases much of the terrain rarely exceeds 3-4m above present mean sea level. This is not to say that the other higher islands will escape unscathed from rising sea levels. For them the problem isn’t necessarily complete immersion but the alteration of costal zones is of concern. It is in these regions that most of the main settlements are and a majority of the vital economic infrastructures, making them very vulnerable.

The ecosystems of the ocean are particularly sensitive to slight but permanent changes in the average surface temperature of the earth. For the people of the Pacific Islands this is crucial connected to their future. First, the coral reefs that are in the shallow waters surrounding many of the pacific islands are incredibly fragile to begin with. The

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