Pacific-Island Dwellers Suffer from Global Warming

Now is not a good time to live on a small Pacific island. Thanks to global warming, many researchers say, species on such islands face a variety of perils. The living coral that surrounds the islands reacts to warmer ocean temperatures by bleaching, or as the vernacular has it, dying. Warmer temperatures allow disease-carrying mosquitoes to travel higher into the hills to munch on species that haven’t developed resistance. And homo sapiens residing on the low-lying islands say climate-change-generated cyclones threaten to make their homelands completely uninhabitable, turning residents into “environmental refugees.” (A group of activists recently called on Australia, the region’s biggest producer of greenhouse gases — which has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol — to create formal policies accepting such refugees.) Oh, and one other threat to island species: Thanks to melting polar ice caps and rising sea levels, some islands, like northwest Hawaiian Whale Skate Island, are disappearing entirely, which is troublesome for all non-fish, non-mermaid species.