Tuvaluan’s May ‘Escape’ to Australia, but if They Do, Associated Press, It Won’t Be Because of Climate Change

From ClimateREALISM

H. Sterling Burnett

By H. Sterling Burnett

An Associated Press (AP) story reports that Australia has offered refuge to up to 280 residents of Tuvalu each year, allowing them to “escape rising seas and other ravages of climate change.” Australia’s refugee policies may result in some migration from Tuvalu. However, any residents that do migrate, won’t be relocating to avoid dangerous changes to the island nation resulting from climate change, because data show Tuvalu, like many other island nations, is actually growing amid modest warming, rather than being lost to rising seas.

The AP story, “Australia offers to help Tuvalu residents escape rising seas and other ravages of climate change,” describes a proposal by Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to allow up to 280 Tuvaluans to come to Australia each year, a number of migrants that could grow annually over time.

“We believe the people of Tuvalu deserve the choice to live, study and work elsewhere, as climate change impacts worsen,” Albanese said in announcing the plan. “Australia has committed to provide a special pathway for citizens of Tuvalu to come to Australia, with access to Australian services that will enable human mobility with dignity.”

As noble as Albanese’s sentiments are, his concerns about climate change’s impacts on Tuvalu are misplaced.

As discussed in Climate at a Glance: Islands and Sea Level Rise, data presented in multiple studies show that most islands and atolls in the Pacific Ocean, including Tuvalu, are growing, not shrinking. Rising seas are depositing sand and sediment, building up the height of islands and expanding their coastlines. Also, despite many predictions that island nations in the Pacific would spawn waves of climate refugees, the population of Tuvalu and other islands have steadily grown, not decreased.

This research has been discussed in multiple Climate Realism posts, herehere, and here, for example.

As early as 2010, research showed the small island nations of Tuvalu and Kiribati were growing, rather than being submerged beneath rising seas. The BBC discussed one study which surveyed 27 islands spanning Tuvalu, Kiribati, and the Federated States of Micronesia, and found that over the last 60 years, 80 percent of the islands either maintained their size or grew, with some growing dramatically.

The 2010 scientific findings were confirmed and expanded upon in 2015 when the same group of researchers published a peer-reviewed study of 600 coral reef islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The researchers found approximately 40 percent of those islands remained stable, and 40 percent grew in size.

As National Geographic reported, “Some islands grew by as much as 14 acres (5.6 hectares) in a single decade, and Tuvalu’s main atoll, Funafuti—33 islands distributed around the rim of a large lagoon—has gained 75 acres (32 hectares) of land during the past 115 years.”

Research published in 2018 in the peer reviewed journal GIScience & Remote Sensing confirmed the earlier studies results, concluding that 15 of the 28 uninhabited islands on Tuvalu’s Funafuti Atoll saw their shorelines increase in recent years.

Nor have tropical cyclones increased in number or become stronger during the recent period of modest warming, so that can’t be a factor driving Tuvaluan’s from their homes.

Australia’s government can welcome as many Tuvaluan’s to their shores as it wishes, but, as it does so, Australia’s citizens should be aware that despite their government’s claims, any influx of migrants from Tuvalu is not being driven by climate change. The AP, the Australian government, or someone, should at least be honest about what is and what is not responsible for any migration from Tuvalu to Australia, a task with seems to fall to Climate Realism.

H. Sterling Burnett

H. Sterling Burnett

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., is the Director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News. In addition to directing The Heartland Institute’s Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy, Burett puts Environment & Climate News together, is the editor of Heartland’s Climate Change Weekly email, and the host of the Environment & Climate News Podcast.

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November 20, 2023 2:12 pm

Islanders might move away to escape all the new airports and elite resorts destroying their once “islander” way of life.

Reply to  bnice2000
November 20, 2023 10:25 pm

With a declining fresh water supply and an increasing waste disposal load.

Reply to  AndyHce
November 21, 2023 11:27 am

Important points… which seem to elude many. Thanks.

Reply to  bnice2000
November 21, 2023 8:06 pm

Fresh water is the key. There is only so much that naturally occurs as a lens floating on top of saline water and replenished by rainwater seeping into the aquifer. Draw it down too fast and salt water intrudes and ruins the whole system.

Hope they have lots of desalination capacity for those big airports and resorts. I wonder what they will power them with?

Tom Halla
November 20, 2023 2:15 pm

From what I have seen, Australia is trying to woo Tuvalu away from China, and offering immigration to Australia is one of the favors the government is offering as an incentive.

Richard Page
Reply to  Tom Halla
November 20, 2023 2:52 pm

Many Pacific Island nation’s have signed ‘cooperation agreements with China but it was the Solomon Islands signing a treaty with China that allows Chinese warships to use the services there that worried the USA and, of course, Australia. No doubt Albanese is doing all he can to woo the Pacific Island nations in Australia’s interests but he might have to offer much more in incentives.

November 20, 2023 2:21 pm

Those that want to ‘escape’ like most of the other migrants in the world do so because they can’t make a decent living where they are coming from. War, political, and religious reasons round out the rest. Most have limited, if any, skills but are happy to work hard in an economy that rewards them. We don’t/won’t see doctors and professionals in the migrant mixes.

November 20, 2023 2:23 pm

Tuvaluans number less than 12,000 so all could move to Oz and leave their land to China for a military base…..China would expand by adding more sand ….CCP is very aggressive and would move on Oz next.

Reply to  antigtiff
November 20, 2023 2:42 pm

There are single apartment buildings in China that hold more people than that.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  antigtiff
November 20, 2023 4:21 pm

China is only – what- 50 times more populous that Australia?

Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
November 20, 2023 11:02 pm

About 54-times or a bit more.

Rud Istvan
November 20, 2023 2:32 pm

The Tuvalu climate situation is so dire that there is currently a major expansion of new high end resort hotel construction worth billions in aggregate, supported by recent expansion of Tuvalu’s Funafuti Airport runway to handle more long distance jet traffic. Either the Australian PM or the resort industry/airlines are clueless. Not both.

Peta of Newark
Reply to  Rud Istvan
November 20, 2023 4:35 pm

big planes are now going to ‘sinking’ Tuvalu for similar reasons big planes are now going to ‘melting’ Antarctica
They’re all going there to do ‘research’


research I say.

Reply to  Peta of Newark
November 20, 2023 11:04 pm

I hope they balance out the weight of the runways and resorts.

Don’t want the islands tipping over.

Reply to  bnice2000
November 21, 2023 11:30 am

Don’t want your “Johnson” out of whack.

Reply to  Rud Istvan
November 20, 2023 10:27 pm

Do you not recall the sure method of knowing when a politician is lying?

Reply to  Rud Istvan
November 21, 2023 10:00 am

I hope that those financing these projects dutifully filled in the obligatory ‘climate risk’ assessments before committing the cash 🙂

Reply to  Rud Istvan
November 21, 2023 7:54 pm

Either the Australian PM or the resort industry/airlines are clueless. Not both.

Do we assume that they are actually different? Their interests could correspond nicely. Perhaps the PM might be an investor, or the resort industry an investor in the PM? Wouldn’t it be nice if the resort ownerrs held title to most of the island, and allowed for only enough native population to service the hotel? The formula works pretty well in the Carribean. Recall the opposition to Disney Paris, or close to you, their ongoing disputes in Florida? I suspect Tuvalu will put up much less resistance, and reducing their stake in their own island will help to steamroll the rest of the poputlation..

November 20, 2023 2:35 pm

It depends on the benefits package.

November 20, 2023 2:36 pm

That numbers less than an hour’s worth of migrants at the southern U.S. border.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
November 20, 2023 3:39 pm

Just relocate some of the US factories that moved to China to somewhere else in the Americas. Then they wouldn’t have to come to the US for work.

Reply to  scvblwxq
November 20, 2023 3:41 pm

Oops. …that were moved…

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  ResourceGuy
November 20, 2023 4:26 pm

I keep seeing the term “migrants” for illegal immigrants- certainly all over the woke Northeast. I think we should call them what they are- they’re not migrants. Or maybe they are- but that word alone doesn’t give the full story. Just saw a news story about a flood of “migrants” into Springfield, MA- a city that was proud to call itself a sanctuary city. Now it reaps the results of that woke nonsense. This is a big problem in this region. Here nobody will dare use the term “illegal immigrants”. That would be considered offensive- the offensive truth.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Joseph Zorzin
November 21, 2023 10:37 am

Refer them as “illegal aliens” as defined by U.S. statutes (law).

Reply to  ResourceGuy
November 20, 2023 4:40 pm

That numbers less than an hour’s worth of migrants illegal immigrants at the southern U.S. border.


Ron Long
November 20, 2023 3:11 pm

OK, I looked up Tuvalu on Google Earth ™ and it is a classic atoll. Darwin could use it as the type example. Paradise. I wonder if real estate values are going down? Just thinking.

Paul Hurley
November 20, 2023 3:37 pm

The search continues for those elusive climate refugees! 😉

Reply to  Paul Hurley
November 20, 2023 4:55 pm

There are thousands of them leaving Canada every year.
Many do it every year.
Usually in October – November.
Direct flights to Mexico, where they’re readily accepted.

But the “climate crisis” always fixes itself in Canada by about May every year so the climate refugees repatriate themselves then.

I have a theory that the annual “climate crisis” in Canada is being orchestrated by Mexico.

Prove me wrong 🙂

Richard Page
Reply to  Mr.
November 20, 2023 5:59 pm

It’s as good as any and better than most climate change theories!

Gary Pearse
November 20, 2023 4:00 pm

“As early as 2010, research showed the 1small island nations of Tuvalu and Kiribati were growing, rather than being submerged beneath rising seas.”

Darwin figured this out in 1842! It was disputed by a number of scientists but in 1953, the US military drilled Bikini Atoll prior to A bomb testing. Result? The drill intersected ~120m of dead coral layers before entering the proto island of basalt volcanics! Drilling of major river deltas penetrated ~120m of layers of sands and clays until it penetrated the coarse gravel and cobbles of the ancient river mouth formed during the glacial maximum. For homework, tell me what the connection is.

When these arguments were presented to ‘how-hard-can-it-be’ enumerate linear thinkers, they obfuscated with mindless citations of sealevel rise submerging non coral islands.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Gary Pearse
November 20, 2023 4:11 pm

Dang the inumerate and illiterate spelling ‘corrector’ struck again!

spangled drongo
Reply to  Gary Pearse
November 20, 2023 5:00 pm

When nature can save you from 400 feet of SLR, there’s not much chance of drowning these days.

Richard Page
Reply to  spangled drongo
November 20, 2023 6:02 pm

There was the one group of atoll dwelling geniuses that dynamited part of it to enlarge a lagoon, I think – can’t remember all the details. Upshot was that they cried ‘climate change’ after parts of the coral died off.

spangled drongo
November 20, 2023 4:04 pm

Could Albanese have the true situation figured? And he is offering this as a sweetener to get their minds off China?
Maybe he is smart enough to know that they will never be victims of SLR and is using the same ace that they do.

November 21, 2023 3:54 am

As typical with the self-described “climate scientists” their blatherings are devoid of actual science, such as, in this case, marine science and geography. Anybody who is at all familiar with tropical and subtropical coastal geography and geophysical forces affecting low islands and atolls knows that they develop in a dynamic environment, subject to a variety of processes that at the same time tend to grow, shrink, and relocate land forms. Such islands form only in shallow seas, either in coastal shelves (as in Florida), on the tops of submerged mountains (typically volcanos arising from the seabed in deeper seas), and in extended shallow banks like Bahamas Bank. Being tropical or subtropical, these islands typically have extensive mangrove forests at the waters edge, whose roots function to capture sand, sediment, and detritus where new land forms over time. When mean sea level rises, so do the mangrove shorelines, which not only rise but extend laterally building new land.

Other processes also serve to create sand which then gets caught up in the mangrove roots. A very common coral reef fish is the parrot fish. It consumes hard coral, then poops out grains of hard coral which looks like white or pink sand. Over time these deposits build up around all coral reefs, in some cases to thousands of feet thickness above bedrock over the eons – the Bahamas Bank is a notable example. If seas rise, coral reefs move right up along with the rising seas, spreading their effects higher and higher. Then when sea levels retreat, it leaves behind extensive deposits of calcareous fossils and compressed/hardened limestone. The entire Florida peninsula consists of such material, overlain with white sands.

November 21, 2023 6:34 am

The complex innerworkings of underwater mountains, islands, hydrostatic pressure, sedimentary reef development as well as tectonic uplift are issues way too complex for anyone to know about right now, especially if there is someone with a degree in climatology working on the mystery.

November 22, 2023 12:28 am

I so do miss the Maldives.

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