Climate Change has Pacific Considering Artificial Islands
“Tuvalu, Kiribati look at options to relocating”
A story from the Pacific Islands News Association claims that in the aftermath of the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference’s failure to establish a framework for combating global warming, Pacific Islands nations like Tuvalu and Kiribati are seriously considering options like reclaiming land to make up for erosion by rising sea levels, or even creating floating islands (a concept suggested by Japan).
Tuvalu’s President Ielemia says his nation wants “to build new islands and add more land mass to the current set of islands in Tuvalu” and he hopes the developed world will provide funds for this project. This would probably involve importing soil from nearby nations like Australia, and would obviously cost millions of dollars.
The other idea of floating artificial islands was proposed at the 2009 Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting in Japan, where the Japanese engineering firm Shimizu Corporation unveiled its ‘Green Float’ concept: artificial circular islands, 3000 metres in diameter, that float on the sea near the equator. These guys are serious: http://www.shimz.co.jp/english//theme/dream/greenfloat.html
These islands would centre around 1000-metre-high towers that include residential space, businesses and farms. They could also be powered by various renewable energy sources. So overall, “Instead of relocating to a foreign territory and being classed as a climate refugee, islanders would insist that they remain in utopia with their own land, their own fishing grounds and the nation they believe God gave them”. It is hoped that this project could be available for islands like Kiribati and Tuvalu by 2025.
Now I’m a bit of a science fiction fan, and who knows – these floating enviro-cities might be the way of the future, but it certainly says something about entrenched mentalities worldwide and the power of vested economic interests that such fantasy-solutions to dealing with climate change can seem more achievable than altering our social and economic behaviour. As I heard put forward in a recent lecture, apologists for humanity’s slow reaction to climate change always say that we can’t just change our patterns of consumption and production overnight, and yet within historical memory, at the commencement of World War Two, this is precisely what occurred as rationing was introduced, factories were refitted to aid the war-effort, and citizens were directed to provide labour to essential services. Of course humanity has the ability to rapidly respond to the crisis with which it is faced, but the political will is everywhere lacking…
Meanwhile, Tuvalu and NGOs like Oxfam say that the Pacific Islands are being bullied into submission by Australia, and that Australia’s Rudd government has been unwilling to even discuss a strategy for dealing with the potential forced migration of the Pacific’s 8 million people. In this context, the floating island idea may be fanciful, but it might be their best hope.