By Julia Hawkins, Ashden PR and Digital Media Manager
At the beginning of this month Caribbean ministers at the UN General Assembly called on its member states to pay attention to threat that climate change poses for small island states.
They had good reason. From Trinidad to Tuvalu, small islands across the globe may be diverse in topography, language, culture, religion and geography, but they have one key thing in common: extreme vulnerability to the threat of rising sea levels caused by increased CO2in our atmosphere.
The threat is particularly grave for small island groups formed from coral. These include many of the Pacific islands as well as popular tourist havens such as the Maldives, the highest point of which is a mere three metres above sea level.
As well as the threat of literally being washed away, coral islands and atolls face the spectre of disappearing sources of drinking water. This is because the freshwater ‘lenses’ that float on top of saltwater layers above coral reefs – which are often the only sources of drinking water in small islands – is likely to disappear as a result of increased levels of CO2in water.
Compounding this, as sea levels rise, live coral will also start to become weaker as CO2 levels increase – so reducing islands’ defences.
Only last weekend, foremost climate scientist Michael Mann was reported in the Guardian as predicting that pacific Islands such as Tuvalu “may have to consider evacuation in the next decade”.