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Flood the Pacific islands or don't sell your coal!

By Dave Armstrong - 19 Oct 2014 13:29:0 GMT
Flood the Pacific islands or don't sell your coal!

On the Pacific island of Palau, giant clams may continue to be a valuable food source, but they will be unaffected by more powerful cyclones and the flooding that is causing human distress; Palau image; Credit: © Shutterstock

Leaving natural foods aside for the moment, let’s hope that Australian news covered island politics well recently, because the media have tended to ignore Friday’s grand “voyage” of 12 war canoes! Each canoe represented a different Pacific Island nation. In the well-named harbour of Newcastle in Queensland, Australia, 12 coal ships were present in the world’s biggest port for coal.

A whole flotilla of Australians joined the smaller vessels for 9 hours to protest climate changes that have caused flooding, erosion and a multitude of other problems for the Pacific including Australia herself! Only 2 of the coal ships left on time, with another 2 sneaking out later. All of Fiji, Tuvalu, Tokelau, Micronesia, Vanuatu, The Solomon Islands, Tonga, Samoa, Papua New Guinea and Niue will be pleased, but the publicity is more important than causing yet more “inconvenience.”

Australia retains good relations with most of the Pacific, to which it belongs. With its giant coal reserves, the prospect of selling it to Asia obviously attracts the greedy. The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, opened yet another mine on October 13th this year, with a fairly outdated viewpoint of, “coal is good for humanity.” We’re not sure where he got that idea from, but maybe he reads a lot of Dickens. Developing countries seem often to be more aware of climate change’s effects, possibly because of their lower ability to build resistant infrastructures.

As weather patterns change on Pacific Islands, food security is really threatened. Infertile soils result from salt intrusion, but the mainland of Australia may not see that problem very often. For that reason, Tokelau was the first to adjust to 100% renewable energy, despite the giant cost to them in 2012. Scotland and Iceland are the only ones we know of to follow them (by 2020). Canoes will become even more essential to island life as sea-level rises. Collecting the nutritious coconut was their basic function, along with fishing and transport, but rescuing neighbours could soon become a major need.

Australia has dismantled its climate policies with its change of government with coal high on its list of avoiding previous commitments on carbon reduction. The annoyance this causes is equivalent to several other nation’s insistence on buying coal and maintaining fossil fuel industries, in the face of the consequences of carbon emissions. However, Oxfam’s polls show at least 60% of Aussies believing this has a negative impact on those who are failing to grow and access enough food in the world.

The earth is a strange place but the people on it have been known to behave in equally strange ways, simply in order to please a minority! To alter the mood, even for Australian politicians, here is a holiday idea from our past stories, designed to help a Pacific island economy and change the outlook of anyone who goes to Aitutaki.

For more active types, here is the blog of the Pacific Island Warriors, recording their “blockade” and their feelings in - The Newcastle Flotilla.