On 17 October 2009, the then President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, convened a cabinet meeting six meters below the surface of the water not far from the island of Girifushi. Nasheed wanted to use the media-effective spectacle to point out that his country is threatened with flooding should the rise in sea levels due to climate change continues.
Similar fears were subsequently expressed by politicians from other island states in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, such as Kiribati, Tuvalu and the Federation of Micronesia. They referred not least to two warnings by the United Nations in 1989 and 2005, which spoke of the imminent demise of the tropical paradises on the shallow coral islands.
However, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has since had to permanently revise its forecasts regarding sea-level rise: After assuming 100 centimeters by 2100 in 1990, only 38 centimeters remained from 2007 onwards.
But even this could be grossly exaggerated: as a long-term study by the Australian oceanographer Simon Holgate showed, the sea level rose by only ten centimeters between 1904 and 1953 and then by only 7.25 centimeters between 1954 and 2003.
But that’s not all: the coral islands have hardly shrunk as a result of the increase, but instead have generally even grown. This is the result of a whole series of studies published between 2010 and January 2023. Most recently, a group of researchers led by geologist Paul Kench of the National University of Singapore reported in the science journal Nature Communications that “recent shoreline changes (±40 meters in 50 years)” on the Maldives island of Kandahalagalaa were “dwarfed by shoreline changes (±200 meters in 100 years) that occurred in the 15 centuries prior”.
This fits with the findings of the team led by Gennadii Donchyts of the Dutch Delft University of Technology in August 2016 in Nature Climate Change: “In the past decades, the atoll islands showed no signs of physical destabilization in the face of sea-level rise. 88.6 per cent of the islands were either stable or increased in area, while only 11.4 per cent shrank. Remarkably, no island of more than ten hectares in extent lost size. These results show that the area stability of atolls and islands is a global trend, regardless of the rate of sea level rise.”
And this in turn corresponds with further observations by New Zealand-born Kench and his colleague Arthur Webb of the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission, based in Suva, the capital of the Republic of Fiji, which the two reported on in the journal Global and Planetary Change in June 2010:
An analysis of aerial photographs of 27 islands in the Pacific that barely rise above sea level has shown that only four of these atolls have decreased in size since 1951. The base area of the others, however, has remained constant or grown.
In the island state of Tuvalu, for example, this affects seven out of nine islets. Even severe natural disasters such as the Christmas tsunami of 2004 or Hurricane Bebe in October 1972 did not reduce the size of the islands. On the contrary: on the Maldives, the tsunami caused a height increase of up to 30 centimeters, while the hurricane increased the size of the main island of Tuvalu, named Fongafale, by ten percent.
“Used only for the subject”
Normally, however, according to Kench and Webb, the island growth resulted from the continuous flushing of ground-up coral fragments from the surrounding reefs, where the corals, as living organisms, constantly produce new material. The reefs thus permanently supply sand that compensates for or even overcompensates for the rise in sea level.
Climate alarmists try to put this remarkable fact into perspective by referring to the alleged death of corals in the South Seas due to rising water temperatures. But the latter is just as much a myth as the demise of the islands due to climate change. For example, the Australian physicist Peter Ridd proved in 2021 that the coral population in the Great Barrier Reef has significantly increased instead of decreasing since 1985. And the mean water temperatures in the area of the 2300-kilometre-long and thus largest reef on earth have not changed since 1871. This is what Bill Johnston, a former employee of the State Environment Department of the Australian state of New South Wales, found out in 2022 when studying old expedition reports.
On the other hand, the Maldives and some other island groups in the Indian Ocean as well as in the Pacific are nevertheless threatened by flooding. Of course, this is not a consequence of allegedly man-made climate change, but of some counterproductive behaviour on the part of the islanders, who like to point the finger at the large industrial nations and accuse them of destroying their livelihoods. As the US marine biologist Bernhard Riegl was able to prove, parrot fish carry large quantities of ground-up coral limestone from the reefs to the beaches. However, these animals are often caught and consumed. Another serious fault is the reckless extraction of building material from the shore area.
That they themselves are responsible for the preservation of the islands and, incidentally, are instrumentalised by the climate lobby, has meanwhile also been recognized by some inhabitants of the atolls in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. One of them is the environmentalist Elisala Pita from Tuvalu:
Her homeland is “only used for the issue of climate change”. The erosion of the coastline on Funafuti, which is often shown in documentaries on European television, is clearly the result of the excessive private construction projects of a local minister.
* Note from EIKE editors :
This essay first appeared in the Preußische Allgemeine Zeitung; 06 April 2023, p.12; EIKE thanks the PAZ editorial staff as well as the author Wolfgang Kaufmann for allowing the unabridged takeover, as with previous articles: https://www.preussische-allgemeine.de/ ; emphasis in the text: EIKE editorial team.