My Shrinking Island Serves as Climate Warning

Strip of livable land is all that's left for Nauru islanders: President
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jul 19, 2011 1:26 PM CDT
Squalid housing is shown in 2001 in the island state of Nauru.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – To witness the devastation of climate change in real time, Westerners need only look to the island nation of Nauru, its president writes in the New York Times. The country is smaller than Manhattan—and after phosphate mining and deforestation, there remains “only a thin strip of coastline for us to live on,” writes Marcus Stephen. The crisis has led to “one of the highest unemployment rates in the world.” But “I am not looking for sympathy,” he writes. Instead, Stephen offers a warning.

“The world is headed down a similar path with the relentless burning of coal and oil, which is altering the planet’s climate” and “edging us ever closer to a day when no one will be able to take clean water, fertile soil or abundant food for granted.” In the future, “environmental catastrophes” could mark “a threat as great as nuclear proliferation or global terrorism,” Stephen writes. “I forgive you if you have never heard of Nauru—but you will not forgive yourselves if you ignore our story.” Full column here.

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