Tuvalu is a small South Pacific island nation just a few degrees south of the equator, just on the western side of the International Date Line, and about half way between Australia and Hawaii. It has a small population of just over 11,000 and consists of a series of islands totalling about 26 square kilometres in area. Surprisingly, it was Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendaña who was the first European to sail through the archipelago, in 15681. The inhabited islands of Tuvalu comprise six atolls and three reef islands, with numerous smaller uninhabited islands. Atolls consist of a ring-shaped coral reef that encloses a lagoon partially or completely, while a reef island or cay is essentially a build-up of sand on top of a coral reef. The volcanic seamounts that underlie Tuvalu, and on which the atolls and islands sit are believed to have been formed by the Arago ‘hotspot’, an area of the crust which overlies a part of the mantle which is anomalously hot compared to that surrounding it2. These seamounts vary in age from 95 to 11 million years old, while most are between 46 and 53 million years old3.
Member for Hughes, Craig Kelly, was at an Australian Monarchist League function on Friday night (September 6), at which he gave an after-dinner speech. In this speech, he accused the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) of covering up crucial information about climate change4. It is fitting that a statement such as this should be delivered at a meeting of monarchists insofar as Kelly’s statement is from the past. In the modern world, where just about every scientific research journal is online, it is impossible to cover up any ‘crucial information’ about climate change. It is laid out for all to see provided you know how to use something like Google or even Google Scholar, which Kelly is clearly incapable of doing. In addition, it was the ABC fact checkers who checked his assertion that Tuvalu was actually increasing in size, and found it to be correct. The nation’s land area had grown by 2.9% (i.e. 73 hectares) in the four decades to 2014. While this is true of the larger islands, the smaller uninhabited islands have actually decreased in size, with one disappearing completely. How this is covering up ‘crucial information’ was not explained by Kelly.
To cap the idiocy off, Kelly also seemed to be under the misapprehension that Tuvalu was a single atoll, saying: “It’s a coral atoll”. As stated above, it comprises numerous atolls and reef islands. While this should have been enough to demonstrate that his ability to actually find out things about which he plans to deliver a speech is almost non-existent, he followed this up with “Even though you’ve had a slight sea level rise, a coral atoll actually floats on the ocean”. It is difficult to conceive of how anyone with a modicum of intelligence could actually think this was sensible or even physically possible. I doubt even Pauline Hanson or Malcolm Roberts are that stupid (I know; that is a big call). However, with the greatest of effort, I can see a single bright spot in this, and this is that Kelly has realised that sea levels are rising, something he did not do some 16 months ago on the basis of a single 150-year-old photograph of Fort Denison in Sydney Harbour6. Despite his recent single collision with reality, I think we can safely say that Craig Kelly is the parliamentarian most lacking in any semblance of cognitive ability.