The end of the Pacific? Sea-level change and Pacific Island livelihoods

Public lecture by Professor Patrick Nunn, University of New England
1:00 – 2:00pm, Tuesday, 23 April 2013
Fenner Seminar Room, Frank Fenner Building 141, Linnaeus Way, ANU.

The effects of rising sea level – lowland flooding, shoreline erosion and groundwater salinisation – have become increasingly apparent in the Pacific Islands. Sea-level rise threatens the viability of livelihoods. Widespread population re-location is inevitable and should involve long-term planning, community support, and targeted donor funding. Planning for food security and population growth is also needed, as is global support for the sustainable future of Pacific Island peoples. There are few signs that any of the essential actors apprehend the enormity of the challenges ahead, suggesting that the next few decades will be marked by abrupt changes and reactive responses.

About the speaker

Patrick Nunn is the Professor and Head of the School of Behavioural, Cognitive and Social Sciences at the University of New England. His research interests range from geology and geography to archaeology and mythology. He has long-standing interests in climate change and is part of IPCC Working Group 1. He has some 200 publications including books like Oceanic Islands (Blackwell, 1994), Environmental Change in the Pacific Basin (Wiley, 1999), Climate, Environment and Society in the Pacific during the Last Millennium (Elsevier, 2007), and Vanished Islands and Hidden Continents of the Pacific (University of Hawai’i Press, 2009). For 25 years he was at the University of the South Pacific learning about the challenges of life – historical, contemporary and future – in the Pacific Islands.

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