“The sea has started to come inland, it forced us to move up to the hilltop and rebuild our village there away from the sea,” said Sirilo Sutaroti, 94, a leader of the Paurata tribe, to a group of Australian environmental scientists. The scene of this rising sea is an archipelago of upthrust volcanoes and coral atolls, which dots the Pacific to the northeast of Australia: the Solomon Islands. There, a swollen sea is claiming the shoreline — and even, researchers say, entire masses of land.
In a recent paper in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the scientists link the destructive sea level rise to anthropogenic — that is, human-caused — climate change. The study marks the first time anyone has concretely analyzed the loss of Solomon Island shoreline in the context of global warming, they say.
So far the effects on human populations are limited to coastal villages being forced to relocate to higher ground. But five entire (thankfully unpopulated) islands in the Solomons have sunk beneath the rising ocean surface, and its only a matter of time before small populated islands begin to suffer the same fate. That will lead (has already led, in the case of Tuvalu) to displacement, relocation, refugees, all things that tend to have a destabilizing effect on people and states.