World's 1st 'Climate Refugees' Find a Home
New Zealand accepts family from island nation of Tuvalu
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Aug 8, 2014 4:19 PM CDT
In this Oct. 13, 2011 photo, Funafuti, the main island of the nation state of Tuvalu, is seen from a Royal New Zealand airforce C130 aircraft as it approaches at Funafuti, Tuvalu, South Pacific.   (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)

(Newser) – Mark your calendar: The age of modern climate-change refugees may have just begun. New Zealand has agreed to let the family of Sigeo Alesana, a teacher, migrate from Tuvalu, a Polynesian island nation where rising salt water is said to be polluting the drinking water, the Smithsonian and Radio New Zealand News report. Officials who accepted their claim didn't emphasize the climate-change connection, and did mention the family's ties to New Zealand (they'd lived there a few years ago), possibly to keep climate refugees from coming by the boat-load. "I do see the decision as being quite significant," an environmental law expert tells the New Zealand Herald. "But it doesn't provide an open ticket for people from all the places that are impacted by climate change."

Yet the family won by appealing on humanitarian grounds, so the ruling has generated media buzz. And with 150 million to 300 million climate refugees expected worldwide by 2050, New Zealand's decision could send "a strong signal" to countries like Sweden and Finland, which often take in people from natural disasters, the Washington Post reports. "I believe that bilateral or regional arrangements are going to become necessary," says a French climate-migration expert. Migrating peoples may have to prepare, too: Kiribati, another island nation threatened by climate change, has designed a program to train its people in skilled labor so they don't become "second-hand" citizens after moving. (Scientists think Kiribati may be under the waves by the end of this century.)

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Aug 12, 2014 1:02 AM CDT
The sea has been rising and fallling for millions of years.. Just like the ice keeps coming going at the poles. If your all so concerned give up you planes, trains, buses and cars. Start walking! Rather than talking the talk. Lets see you walk the walk. Everyone from the president on down. He can give up marine one and air force one. The rest of us give up our cars and trucks. I doubt you will see any of this ever happen. It's just more political smoke! Pandering to a bunch of rich environmentalists. Another example is gasohol. It cost the tax payer huge amounts of monies and polutes more than anyone realizes. But they still keep using it.
Aug 9, 2014 7:27 AM CDT
There will be more than 300 million refugees. It will be an ongoing global catastrophe. Add famine and spreading wars. There will be a mad rush for limited resources like food and water. Those who are under 20 yrs. old today will have shorter life spans because global warming will upend their lives.
Andrew Forster
Aug 9, 2014 1:27 AM CDT
Wow. Having to prepare for the demise of your own country be training your citizens so they won't be second class citizens in their new homeland, that's gotta be brutal.