NZ tells Tokelau to burn their food

At WUWT the ever-practical Willis Eschenbach refuses to bet on the long-term success of a New Zealand-funded development project to entirely convert the power supply in Tokelau to solar panels and coconut oil and explains exactly why he won’t.

I mention this story for the benefit of the many people in New Zealand and overseas who continue to consider coral islands at risk from DAGW*-driven sea level rise.

But at the same time Willis has pertinent lessons for Kiwi policy wonks who love renewable energy to bits and are working steadily to destroy our ability to do without the other reliable kind even when it’s much safer especially when we’re poor for us to have it than to lose it, Kiwi foreign policy wonks who need a kick up the backside for dropping a project on Tokelau and having the temerity to call it an aid project, and all those happy environmentalists who wouldn’t know the difference between food and energy (oh, food is energy?) who see no problem in burning poor people’s food in their engines instead of letting them eat it.

This is the nugget of information that grabbed my attention: in just a few sentences Willis paints a picture both of the dynamic nature of these lonely little coral atolls at the mercy of the great oceanic storms and of the atolls’ unique durability. The characteristics of their formation make it almost impossible to destroy them.

Though their instability seems all too fragile, their survival consists in their very mobility. Remember their true size: the width of the lagoon (often several miles), not the individual islands. They are the flat top of a mountain – that’s why the ocean does not sweep them away.

Willis says these interesting things in describing the Tokelau atoll:

Like many atolls, it is in the form of a ring, with the widest and solidest individual islands on the windward side of the atoll. A coral atoll is not a solid thing. It is a hesitation in a storm-driven river of coral sand and rubble. As a result, on the side where the storms hit, the river of coral rubble is larger, and the islands are longer and more connected. Typically, none of the individual islands rise more than a few metres above sea level.

Here’s an open invitation to all Pacific Islands affairs reporters to examine their understanding of the threat posed by rising sea levels: how did the atolls survive the transition from the last Ice Age, when the sea level was 130 metres lower than it is now? You can be sure that they’ll cope easily with a sea-level rise of just 1.8 mm per year, which has been fairly continuous for about 6000 years and isn’t accelerating.

Willis is always worth reading, so I urge you to check out the original article and see all the other interesting things he says, such as why on earth New Zealand told them to burn their food.

* dangerous anthropogenic global warming

Views: 113

12 Thoughts on “NZ tells Tokelau to burn their food

  1. Richard C (NZ) on 12/08/2012 at 1:03 pm said:

    Sorry, couldn’t help but be distracted by the NoCO2 Certification Program AdSense banner above this post.

    Apparently “Climate change has potentially devastating consequences for the planet”

    Tokelau’s informal economic migratory policy seems to be trumping any climate change concerns, Willis – “about 1,200 people living in Tokelau, and there are about 5,000 Tokelauans living in New Zealand … go figure”

    • Richard C (NZ) on 12/08/2012 at 1:27 pm said:

      Those 1200 remaining rely on a NZ $8333 per annum govt subsidy per person looks like so their economy is unsustainable – may as well make their food supply unsustaining too.

    • RC,

      Sorry, couldn’t help but be distracted by the NoCO2 Certification Program AdSense banner above this post.

      You’ve mentioned those ads a couple of times, Richard. Perhaps I should explain that they’re out of my control, and are placed by Google when the page is served to the browser. We probably each see different adverts at the same moment. You might actually influence them yourself with your browsing habits. I get quite irritated with them, because the only side in the climate debate with money for advertising is of course against us, so we never see the realist point of view, always the warmist’s!


    • Richard C (NZ) on 12/08/2012 at 10:10 pm said:

      I thought it ironic and clicked on it in the hope that some commission comes back to your blog RT.

      If it does, I’ll click it as many times as you like…….

    • Ah, Gawd bless ye, m’ son!
      Click a couple of times, no more. They have rules about that.

  2. Alexander K on 12/08/2012 at 2:59 pm said:

    Welfareism at it’s very worst. Insanity by our government.

  3. Bulaman on 13/08/2012 at 6:41 am said:

    It is about politics. If we don’t do this then the Tokelauans will vote with Japan on Whaling, they will invite the Chinese tuna fleet etc.. Sustainable diplomacy sounds better than gun boat diplomacy!

    • Alexander K on 14/08/2012 at 8:35 am said:

      You have made a very good point, Bulaman, but it’s utterly depressing that blackmail (now matter how it’s disguised) by the political opportunists of tiny nations trumps everything in foreign affairs and doesn’t give the ordinary inhabitants of small nations much opportunity or reward for sensible decision-making that might ensure a good future for themselves.

    • Andy on 15/08/2012 at 10:34 am said:

      Some utterly incredible statements in that article

      China’s target is to reduce carbon intensity by 40-45 per cent by 2020

      China’s emissions are skyrocketing. Which planet are these people on?

    • Nick on 15/08/2012 at 11:33 am said:

      Hi Andy,
      You might like to consider the difference between carbon intensity and net emissions

    • Andy on 15/08/2012 at 11:46 am said:

      I still find the idea that China will reduce intensity by 40% in 8 years a little hard to believe

      Aren’t they rolling out one or two coal fired power stations every week?

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