Any budding Second World War historians with an interest in the Pacific battles of 1942-43 will need to either get their field trips in quickly or learn to scuba dive; because several of the islands where American marines battled to dislodge Japanese soldiers are already under water. According to Jonathan Pearlman in the Telegraph:
“Scientists in Australia found that rising sea levels and coastal erosion have caused the disappearance of at least five reef islands in the remote Solomon Islands – believed to be the first evidence of climate change wiping out Pacific islands.”
These include islands in the Tarawa Atoll – the sight of America’s first offensive invasion at the start of its long campaign across the Pacific.
Until now, changes in sea level had been put down to a mix of storms and inappropriate coastal developments and flood defenses. However, the new study demonstrates that the change is due to climate-related sea level rise that is expected to worsen over time. What is happening to the Solomon Islands today will be impacting most of our coastal towns and cities in the next couple of decades.