The tsunami triggered by an underwater volcanic eruption left destruction across the South Pacific island nation of Tonga that illustrates even greater danger from the impacts of climate change, Reuters reports. Climate change, primarily caused by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels, is raising sea levels and posing existential threats to Pacific Island nations responsible for a less than one-half of one-tenth of 1% (0.03%) of historic climate pollution. Acute disasters like tsunamis and storm surges are not the only climate-exacerbated threat to nations like Tonga. Sea level rise is greater near the equator than at the poles and sea water inundation can leave agricultural soils useless for years.
More than 6,000 miles away, thousands of barrels of oil were dumped into an important fishing area rich in marine biodiversity when waves set off by the volcanic eruption hit Peru’s main oil refinery. “There is a massacre of all the hydrobiological biodiversity,” said Roberto Espinoza, leader of the local fishermen. “In the midst of a pandemic, having the sea that feeds us, for not having a contingency plan, they have just destroyed a base of biodiversity.” Tonga: (Reuters, Earther, New York Times $; Peru oil spill: AP; Climate Signals background: Sea level rise)