10 Apr 2007

Fears that climate change will make some Pacific islands uninhabitable

3:27 pm on 10 April 2007

A geography professor of the University of the South Pacific says it's likely that by the end of the century, entire islands in the Pacific will be uninhabitable.

A study into small islands for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that by the middle of the century, Pacific Islands will be hit hard by the effects of climate change.

Professor Patrick Nunn says sea level rise is a significant problem, especially for low-lying countries like Kiribati, Marshall Islands and Tuvalu.

"I would expect within the next 20 or 30 years, several islands in those countries to be rendered uninhabitable. But again i think it's wrong to focus exclusively on the low islands. Because high Island countries concentration of economic development and people in the low lying areas is so great there's going to be almost equivalent amounts of destruction there."

Professor Patrick Nunn says climate change will cause the Pacific profound settlement and economic changes, where islands will need to abandoned and coastal towns re-lecated.