This is a losing argument:
The climate crisis will sweep away my country if the world doesn’t keep its promises
Now is a time for courage. It will take sacrifices from everyone for us all to survive, the president of the Marshall Islands writes
Just for the avoidance of doubt let’s stipulate that climate change really is going to sink the islands. Sure, there are causes to doubt it. Pacific sea levels don’t seem to have changed much. Coral atolls do in fact grow, the height of the coral tends to be regulated by the sea level. But leave all that aside. We’ll take the statement of the being washed away by car fumes as being correct.
The thing we need to know is what sacrifices?
Say it costs a dollar, $1, to change our ways so that the Marshall Islands survive. Well, yes, OK, why the hell not? Say it costs $1 each? Well, that $7 billion dollars. Or $1 each a year? $7 billion a year and run that for a century and we’re talking about $700 billion. Even when we’re talking about entire countries that’s real money.
But we’re not talking about that at all. The latest estimate of dealing with climate change is 1% of GDP for the next two hand finger counts of decades. Call it $60 trillion at net present values.
The Marshall Islands are 70 of square miles of largely uninhabited coral atolls. With 30,000 people or so. And to save this we should spend $60 trillion?
We’ve done rather similar calculations in our own Dear England. And decided that large chunks of East Anglia can be left to become salt marsh, even sink below the waves, rather than bother to build sea walls. Well, except for that one surrounding the Benn family estate. Sea walls being very, very, much cheaper than $60 trillion and to save rather more than 70 square miles and the living space of 30,000 people.
The rational response to the Marshall Islands sinking below the waves is to send a few ships to pick up the now swimming former residents and stick them on land a little higher than the former average 7 foot above sea level.
The population being talked about is roughly the same of that of Frome. Would we spend $60 trillion to save Frome? No, not destroy it for there the answer is a resounding yes, but save it? No, we wouldn’t.
So, Mr. President, when do you want us to send the boats?