Sunday, February 2, 2020

Climate change-related migration from Guam not an issue, yet

The impact of climate change on the Marshall Islands is, by now, well understood. Climate change is expected to eventually make the islands uninhabitable. It may already be prompting increasing relocation to the United States. The islands and atolls are home to about 58,000 people.

Increasingly, U.S.-based media is reporting about how Marshall Island residents are establishing communities in North America.

The stories, in some cases, tell of hardship.

Politico recently reported on a community of about 800 Marshall Islanders in Dubuque, Iowa. The title of the story is "They Did Not Realize We are Human Beings."

The Marshall Island diaspora is likely to get more attention, because this is one of the most at risk areas on the globe. It's a much different story for Guam.

Climate change isn't prompting relocation of Guam residents to the U.S. The island is well above sea level. It's water supply appears protected for now, and sea level rise has not had a major impact. For Guam natives, the major drivers of relocation are education and employment opportunities. Whether climate change becomes a reason for relocation may well be decided by the impact of climate on Guam's tourism industry. Tourism is a major contributor to island jobs.

Guam's climate change impact remains limited and hard to see unless you look at what's happening below the ocean waters. Coral bleaching is a issue and one that was explored in this recent news story.  It is a worrisome environmental trend around the globe. What it will mean for tourism in the decades ahead remains to be seen.

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