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low-lying inhabited Pacific atolls

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on October 15, 2007 at 8:37:59 pm




The Second Canary: Antarctic Peninsula Sea Ice

This brings me to the second canary in the coal mine, Antarctica, the largest mass of ice on the planet by far. A friend of mine said in 1978, "If you see the break up of ice shelves along the Antarctic Peninsula, watch out, because that should be seen as an alarm bell for global warming. And actually, if you look at the peninsula up close, every place where you see one of these green blotches here is an ice shelf larger than the state of Rhode Island that has broken up in just the last 15 to 20 years. I want to focus on just one of them. It's called Larsen B. I want you to look at these black pools here. It makes it seem almost as if we are looking through the ice to the ocean beneath. But that's an illusion. This is melting water that forms in pools. If you were flying over it in a helicopter, you'd see it 700 feet tall. They are so majestic, so massive. In the distance are the mountains, and just before the mountains is the shelf of the continent, there. This is floating ice, and there is land based ice on the down-slope of those mountains. From here to the mountains is about 20 to 25 miles.


Now, they thought this would be stable for about a hundred years, even with global warming. The scientists who study these ice shelves were absolutely astonished when they were looking at these images. Starting on January 31, 2002, in a period of 35 days, this ice shelf completely disappeared. They could not figure out how in the world this happened so rapidly, and they went back to figure out where they had gone wrong, and that's when they focused on those pools of melting water. Even before they could figure out what had happened there, something else started going wrong. When the floating sea-based ice cracked up, it no longer held back the ice on the land. The land-based ice then started falling into the ocean. It was like letting the cork out of a bottle and there's a difference between floating ice and land-based ice. It's like the difference between an ice cube floating in a glass of water, which when it melts doesn't raise the level of water in the glass, and a cube sitting atop a stack of ice cubes, which melts and flows over the edge. That's why the citizens of these pacific nations had all had to evacuate to New Zealand.

West Antarctica Land Based Ice

I want to focus on West Antarctica, because it illustrates two factors about land-based ice and sea-based ice. It's a little of both. It's propped on tops of islands, but the ocean comes up underneath it. So as the ocean gets warmer, it has an impact on it. If this were to go, sea level worldwide would go up 20 feet. They've measured disturbing changes on the underside of this ice sheet. It's considered relatively more stable, however, than another big body of ice that is roughly the same size.




2. Low lying inhabited Pacific atolls are being inundated because of anthropogenic global warming.

In scene 20, Mr Gore states "that's why the citizens of these Pacific nations have all had to evacuate to New Zealand". There is no evidence of any such evacuation having yet happened.




Having watched the film through in its entirety for context, I find that there is none. There is no antecedent to the pronoun "these" in the expression "these pacific nations" in the film. I am pretty convinced that this is clipped from a much longer sequence. The word "all" may refer to some specific group. It is not unambiguously a claim that "all the citizens of these nations" have moved. I consider it an editing error.


The Wikipedia article on Tuvalu says:


As low-lying islands lacking a surrounding shallow shelf, the island communities of Tuvalu are especially susceptible to changes in sea level and storm patterns that hit the island undissipated. It is estimated that a sea level rise of 20-40 centimetres (8-16 inches) in the next 100 years could make Tuvalu uninhabitable.[2][3] The South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission suggest that while Tuvalu is vulnerable to climate change, there are additional environmental problems such as population growth and poor coastal management, which are affecting sustainable development on the island, they rank the country as extremely vulnerable using the Environmental Vulnerability Index.[4] While some commentators have called for the relocation of the population of Tuvalu to Australia, New Zealand or Kioa (Fiji), the former Prime Minister Maatia Toafa said his government did not regard rising sea levels as such a threat that the entire population would need to be evacuated.[5][6] New Zealand has agreed to accept an annual quota of 75 evacuees.[7]


so this amounts to evidence of some evacuation. However "have all had to evacuate" does seem excessive. Can someone confirm these words in the movie? Specifically the use of the word "all" would make quite a difference.


There was some talk in 2001 of a mass evacuation of Tuvalu to New Zealand, but it doesn't seem to have happened. But 75 people per year out of less than 11,000 is a pretty big evacuation, about a half percent.

Five years on, the government of Tuvalu has noticed many such troubling changes on its nine inhabited islands and concluded that, as one of the smallest and lowest-lying countries in the world, it is destined to become the first nation sunk by global warming. The evidence before their own eyes - and forecasts for a rise in sea level of up to 88cm in the next century made by international scientists - has convinced most of Tuvalu's 10,500 inhabitants that rising seas and more frequent violent storms are certain to make life unliveable on the islands, if not for them, then for their children. A deal has been signed with New Zealand, in which 75 Tuvaluans will be resettled there each year, starting now. As the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean creeps up on to Tuvalu's doorstep, the evacuation and shutting down of a nation has begun.


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