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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Nauru

The rock that started it all
The rock's story

Today I came across a feeble story about an Australian Refugee Detention camp in, of all places, Nauru (nah oo roo). Nauru is small island is the South Pacific. The name sounds familiar. It wouldn't be that island with the huge deposits of bird poop, would it? Well, yes, it would.

Okay, so maybe the crags were only 20 or 30 feet tall
    I remember hearing about this place when I was a kid and it was described as being a roundish island with a narrow strip of habitable land around the outside edge. The interior was filled with these giant crags of rock (2 or 300 feet tall in my minds eye) and all the space between the crags was filled with bird poop, which could be mined for use as fertilizer.
    Australia has a policy of not letting any boat people into the country on the premise that more people are drowned trying to make the crossing than actually make it, so by discouraging them, fewer people try and fewer people die. Sounds like fodder for a big political argument.
    The Australian coast guard sweeps the northern sea. Any boats loaded with refugees get picked up and shipped to Nauru, a thousand miles away. Australia pays Nauru handsomely for accepting these people and this seems to be the one bright spot in the Nauru economy. (The economy is really tiny, so any kind of government activity is going to have big impact.) The Australian taxpayers are footing the exorbitant bill, but that is the Australian taxpayers problem and I'll leave it to them.
    Nauru was riding high for a while on the bird poop business, but like many lottery winners the money wandered off, and the bird poop mining business removed all the bird poop, so now Nauru is reduced to  running a concentration camp for the white man.

Nauru Phosphate Mining
     Then there was the bit about how all the phosphate deposits might not actually be bird poop, but were actually fish poop that accumulated when Nauru was on the bottom of the sea. That's not a half bad theory. Volcanic action produces new islands all the time, well, at least occasionally. These new islands are usually made of molten lava, but I suppose a piece of the seafloor could be pushed up, intact. And if these phosphate deposits were made by birds, where are all the birds? And why is this island the only one with these massive deposits?
     Nauru seems to be a stellar example of the horrors of a welfare state. What those people need is a religion, a religion that would put them to work doing something strenuous. Like carving massive stone heads and transporting them to the coast.

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