Archive for the 'Africa' Category

Eight Disappearing Islands?

Saturday, April 18th, 2009

Maldives from spaceThe website Treehugger recently suggested eight places — low-lying islands, more specifically — that will “soon” be uninhabitable due to climate change.

They are:

  • the Maldives, in the Indian Ocean
  • Tuvalu, Kiribati, the Carteret Islands (off PNG), and Majuro Atoll (Marshall Islands) in the Pacific
  • Lamu and Pate, Kenyan coastal islands
  • Bhola, in southern Bangladesh
  • Key West, off southern Florida

“Soon” is a relative term here–many of these places would still be inhabitable for decades, under current sea-level rise forecasts.

The Pacific islands involve relatively small numbers of people; they could actually be moved, though this would involve irreparable cultural destruction. Bangladesh illustrates another level of impact: millions of people live on these low-lying islands, and tens of millions in vulnerable coastal areas.

This is of course a tiny part of the problem; hundreds of thousands of islands are in danger of disappearing or greatly shrinking in the face of sea-level rise.

(Thanks to Stu Gagnon for the tip.)

Image: Maldives from space, courtesy NASA

Congolese flee to floating islands

Friday, February 24th, 2006

UN officials report that

people have taken refuge on islands formed by clumps of papyrus plants floating on lakes in Katanga’s Upemba National Park. “In and around Upemba, there are thousands of people living on floating islands because it is the only place they feel safe.”

This resort to “islands” is reminiscent of the prehistoric British Isles, where people built artificial islands called crannogs to hole up safely.

(Floating islands are not true islands, of course, and instead resemble natural ships. See Chet Van Duzer’s Floating Islands for more information.)