November 24, 2006

Incredibly cheap

Nature runs a news item on adaptation to climate change. The piece ends like this:
Take the Pacific island nation of Niue, the smallest in the world. Intensification of tropical cyclones and rising sea levels "could wipe the nation off the map within decades in the worst-case scenario," Barnett [Jon Barnett, an environmental sociologist at the University of Melbourne] says. Luckily, he says, some quick-fix adaptations could make a big difference. "For a start, half the population needs to be relocated to higher ground," he says. That, along with improvements in infrastructure to help islanders cope with climate-related problems, "comes to a ballpark figure of $60 million." Considering that what is at stake is an entire nation with its own unique language and culture, says Barnett, "this is incredibly cheap."
Officially Niue has about 1700 people but "locals say the real figure is closer to 1100," down from 5200 in 1966. About 20000 Niueans now live in New Zealand. Niue's annual gross domestic product is $7.6 million, while aid, some of which goes "missing," from New Zealand is $8 million per year. Other major sources of income are remittances from Niueans abroad, the selling of postage stamps, and the licensing of the "nu" Internet domain.

Incredibly cheap?

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