Is Indonesia to Shrink due to Climate Change?

Much of the environmental news at the moment is focusing on the Bali summit. Well, I’ve reported on that summit for much of the lead up, and I’m altogether sick of it. So I shall be leaving that to other hands. In the meantime, I shall endeavor to raise those stories that would otherwise be washed away.

And, in a shameless segue, being washed away is exactly what I want to discuss.

There’s been mention over the past month of those nations that will be most affected by the changing climate. Of those likely to be worst affected soon, the pacific countries and state islands that are being swamped are at the top of the list.

Indonesia is already feeling the affects of rising sea levels which are not necessarily proven to be as a direct result of the warming temperatures. Nevertheless, the need to act is no less prevalent, because the catalyst is different. Just last week tides burst through sea walls in Jakarta, cutting off a main road to the international airport.

“Island states are very vulnerable to sea level rise and very vulnerable to storms. Indonesia … is particularly vulnerable,” Nicholas Stern, author of an acclaimed report on climate change, said on a visit to Jakarta earlier this year.

Alarmists take these warnings provided by scientists just that step further, and add dates to catastrophic events. They predict that by 2035 the Indonesian international airport will be flooded by sea water and thus useless; and by 2080 the tide will be crashing down upon Jakarta’s presidential palace, 10 kilometers inland.

Stepping away from the doomsayers, the experts are still predicting that Java, an island that accounts for more than half of Indonesia’s 226 million people, would be worst hit. Three of the islands biggest cities would be swamped by rising tides, driving people further inland, or to a different island entirely.

Setting aside the travesty of letting an island sink underneath the waves if it could have been saved, the sheer humanitarian need that would arise is beyond measurement.

“Tens of millions of people would have to move out of their homes. There is no way this will happen without conflict,” Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar said recently.”The cost would be very high. Imagine, it’s not just about building better infrastructure, but we’d have to relocate people and change the way people live,” added Witoelar.

So with time seemingly running out, the Indonesian government has set about attempting to identify all the islands that make up the country of Indonesia. Across the 5,000 km – the equivalent of going from Ireland to Iran – country, islands that aren’t even named could soon be wiped off the map altogether.

And this will also have an effect on the gross national product of the country as well. According to Armi Susandi, a meteorologist at the Bandung Institute of Technology, disappearing islands will take with it access to vital mineral resources.

With 42 million people in Indonesia living in areas less than 10 meters above the average sea level, this is still a problem that cannot be resolved simply by talking.

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