New Zealand-based physical geographer Paul Kench, who has worked in Tuvalu, doesn’t question the prospect of future sea level rise. But he does suggest that low-lying islands like Tuvalu won’t necessarily be submerged. “Everyone thinks islands are all the same,” he says. “People believe islands are static dollops of concrete, so that when the water goes up, the islands will just drown.” But islands are not static, he goes on. Tuvalu and other atolls—ring-shaped coral islands surrounding a lagoon—are particularly dynamic, formed and replenished by coral gravels that break off the reefs and are tossed ashore. “The history of most small island states is littered with examples of islands growing in size, eroding away or fluctuating in response to changes in storm energy or cyclone winds,” he notes. In Tuvalu itself, Kench says, a few tiny islands actually grew after 1972’s Cyclone Bebe hurled rubble onto them.