Friday, 26 March 2010

Moore Island is no more

Letter this morning to South China Morning Post:
New Moore Island is No More Island, owing, we are told, to “global warming”. (“Island that nearly sparked war is no more thanks to warming”, March 26).  Well, goodness me!  I live by the sea, but haven’t noticed that it’s risen two metres in the last decade.  For while your headline  clearly buys into Jadavapur University Mr Hazra’s view that New Moore Island near India has sunk due to “global warming”, in the next breath we are told that in the 1990’s it was two metres above sea level.  Something fishy here.  And it should have been picked up.  Two metres?? Due to “global warming”?  Clearly New Moore Island is No Moore due to the regular geological rises and falls of land throughout the world and if global warming did play a part it could only have been the minor one.
Yours, etc
Discovery Bay

So you decide.  Is it sea rises of two metres in a decade?  "Drowning Island", or "Sinking Island"?  The latter, surely.
Article below.  I have to post it all, as it's subscription only.

Island that nearly sparked war is no more thanks to warming

Global warming appears to have finally resolved a dispute that gunboats never could: an island located midway between India and Bangladesh that became a flashpoint for military threats in the 1980s is now submerged under the rising seas.
The Bay of Bengal island, which India called New Moore Island and Bangladesh referred to as South Talpatti, has ceased to exist, the Jadavpur University's School of Oceanic Studies declared this week.
Sugata Hazra, director of the programme, said he started looking at satellite imagery recently after reading media claims that the island, which peaked at 2.1 kilometres long and 1.8 kilometres wide, was actually growing in size. Close examination failed to reveal anything. He then checked with local fishermen.
"They confirmed the island had gone sometime back," he said. "We raised the alarm that we'd better take stock of how much loss is occurring."
The tiny island was first noticed after a severe cyclone in the early 1970s. Both countries laid claim amid speculation there might be oil or natural gas beneath its sandy shores.
No permanent structures were ever built on it, but in 1981 India sent gunboats and coast guard members planted a flag. As soon as India would sail away, security experts said, Bangladeshis would take it down.
Now, Hazra joked, a submarine may seem more appropriate than a gunboat. "What these two countries could not achieve from years of talking, has been resolved by global warming," said Hazra.

The island actually began shrinking in the 1990s, part of an 130-square-kilometre reduction in land mass witnessed in the Bay of Bengal's Sunderbans mudflats over the past 40 years, Hazra said.
During the 1990s, the island was only two metres above sea level, part of a low-lying delta extremely vulnerable to rising seas.
While it is ironic that the political hullaballoo between the neighbours over ownership now appears futile, the debate over the dividing line remains important given India's ongoing bid to define its borders, said Sreeradha Datta, a research fellow at New Delhi's Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. "All the fighting was over nothing," she said. "But we still want to use the middle line to deal with our maritime boundary, which is becoming a hot issue."
Sanjoy Hazarika, a New Delhi-based analyst with the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research, a think tank, said: "It was an amusing case of how a big country tries to bully a smaller country. This didn't go down as a great moment of Indian diplomacy."
As for climate change and the future, a UN panel predicted that 17per cent of Bangladesh would disappear by 2050, displacing 20 million people, if water levels rise by one metre, as some predict.
"There's a lesson here that the world should learn while negotiating over territory," Hazra said. "It's not whether some country makes a gain. It's whether we all collectively win or lose given the impact we're seeing on the global environment."
Another nearby island, Lohachara, was submerged in 1996, forcing its inhabitants to move to the mainland. At least 10 other islands in the area were at risk as well, Hazra said.
Additional reporting by Associated Press 
[link to article here but remember it's subscription]