Some of the Pacific Island countries are losing ground at a rate of knots. No surprise there, they are only just above sea level, and as the climate gets warmer, the polar ice melts, and the sea rises....
So... how does one respond to this? (direct from the Sydney Morning Herald)
Australia refused talks on sea levels, island nation says
February 20, 2007
THE Prime Minister of a Pacific island nation in danger of being submerged if sea levels rise, Tuvalu, was rejected by his Australian counterpart when he sought a meeting on the topic, senior Tuvalu officials said.
An adviser to the Tuvalu Government's environment department, Ian Fry, said the Tuvalu Prime Minister, Maatia Toafa, requested a meeting with John Howard at the Pacific Islands Forum in Fiji in October to discuss the climate change crisis facing the country, but was denied.
Mr Fry, an environmental law expert at the Australian National University, said: "It's unfathomable to me as to why they don't want to discuss it."
A senior Tuvalu Government source said it was the second time in six years that Australia had refused such requests. "Tuvalu has been seeking bilateral dialogue at prime ministerial level with Australia but more than twice now we have been turned away," he said.
Neither Mr Howard's office nor the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade yesterday responded to questions on the claims. In November a senior foreign affairs official told a Senate estimates hearing that Australia had never been approached by any Pacific island government to make arrangements for its people to come to Australia due to rising sea levels.
A high-ranking official from another vulnerable island nation, Kiribati, said his country had also considered approaching Australia to discuss population relocation but decided such action would be futile because the Howard Government was "not sympathetic to the issue".
Pacific nations such as Tuvalu and Kiribati could become uninhabitable within decades due to rising sea levels, reduced rainfall and more extreme weather events.
Tuvalu and Kiribati government officials, who wished to remain anonymous, said Australia had a record of softening the language used on the issue of climate change in recent regional communiques.
"Australia either effectively blocks discussion on the issue those times where it can and plays a deaf partner in the circumstances that it can't," the Kiribati official said.
Documents from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet state that although Australia would assist its Pacific neighbours, there was no such thing as an "environmental refugee" because it is not a category under the Refugee Convention.