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Thursday, May 14, 2009

How do you move an entire country?

A number of small island nations are in danger of disappearing, as they sink into the sea due to global warming induced rises in sea level. This is not if, it's when, and it's soon.

These tiny countries need serious help and they need it now.

Over 500,000 people from Bhola Island in Bangladesh permanently lost their homes when half of the island sank in 2005.

The Carteret Islands will be fully submerged by 2015. It's 10,000 residents need a new home now, but their government can't afford to move them off the island.

Tuvalu will be gone by 2050. Where will its 10,000 residents go? And what will become of its .tv top level domain? GoDaddy is recommending people not to buy one, because the island is sinking. The island needs the revenue generated by the sale of those domain names if they ever hope to be able to afford to buy a chunk of land big enough to relocate. But if the island disappears, there is a good chance that the .tv domain names will disappear with it, leaving anyone that bought one holding something worthless. It's considered a risky investment. The only real reason for buying one of their rather expensive domain names is to help them, not to actually use it.

flooding

And speaking of relocation, the UN doesn't recognize climate change as a qualification for official refugee status. This means no official international aid to help these small disappearing countries find a new home, people that are in danger as a direct result of the actions of those living in industrialized nations. Technically, nobody has to take these people in and all countries have the right to turn them away and tell them to go back home to a place that doesn't even exist.

It's our carbon emissions and green house gasses that are responsible for permanently taking away the homelands of all these people and while you may not personally agree with it, it's our collective agreement as industrialized nations, that they be left with no place to go and no help. Think about that the next time you go for a nice leisurely drive.

So what are we going to do with all these people? It's not like they can just buy a chunk of land from private citizens in Texas and set up a new country within the borders of the US. Neither the US or any other country would ever willingly allow something like that.

No country wants to give up any of their land to another country. This fact has been the basis of many wars throughout history. It's seen as a hostile invasion, even if it is attempted peacefully. Look no farther than Israel and the Palestinian conflict if you want to see how it works out in the long term.

school What is the alternative? Split everyone up and scatter them around the world and make them assimilate to living in a new country, destroying everything…their culture, national identity, and perhaps even their native language in the process? That doesn't seem right either.

While I would personally be willing to temporarily take in one of the displaced families and help them adjust to their new life in a new country, I know in my heart this isn’t what is best for them.

 

Whatever solution we come up with better happen soon, because we don't have time to waste. The islands are sinking and their residents need our help.

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