Climate Change Killing Pacific Island Nation
Businessweek profiles Kiribati, a desperate, sinking, place
By Arden Dier, Newser Staff
Posted Dec 1, 2013 2:35 PM CST
Tarawa atoll, Kiribati, seen from above.   (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

(Newser) – Kiribati in the central Pacific looks like a dream vacation spot. But for its 103,000 citizens, the turquoise water surrounding the nation's 33 islands is ever creeping. Before the end of this century, it will drown most of the 310 square miles of land the I-Kiribati live on, scientists say, sparking "perhaps the first mass movement of people fleeing the consequences of global warming," Jeffrey Goldberg writes for Businessweek. Already seawalls are collapsing and saltwater is seeping through the soil. The people read the Book of Genesis and envision building an ark, but in the meantime, they pray for protection... from climate change.

"Climate change is the ultimate gift of the West, of those who produce greenhouse gasses, to the people of Kiribati, who don't," Goldberg writes. "All it takes is one wave," a resident told him. "The ocean went back out in Hurricane Sandy, but one day it won't. It will stay," said President Anote Tong, who purchased 6,000 acres in Fiji as a possible new base. When it does stay, it will be "migration with dignity." People will look for work in other countries, but "we want to stay home." He adds, "Ecoterrorism is equal to terrorism. This is a kind of terrorism that is more dangerous in one way, because it is treated as legitimate and acceptable. Maybe 10 years ago, they didn't know what they were doing. But it's not an excuse any longer." The full feature is worth a read.

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Showing 3 of 174 comments
TruthisaPeskyThing
Dec 11, 2014 7:42 PM CST
It is a great temptation to play the role of a victim. Yet, Kiribati and other Pacific Islands must recognize what their real problems are. And the real problem is not sea level rise which has been virtually non existent over decades in these islands according to tide gauge. The real problems include over use of fresh water -- freshwater forms a lens under these islands, and over use allows sea water to seep in. Some islands have also had destruction of coral -- that allows more sea waves to reach the island. Others have had over fishing which hinders the ability of coral to regenerate. And there has some outright destruction of islands due to building projects. Nevertheless, many -- if not most -- of these islands have gotten larger over the past several decades. Sand is a shifting phenomenon in that part of the world.
mopremtech
Dec 10, 2014 12:36 PM CST
Sure blame the West when it is CHINA that is now producing approximately 50% of greenhouse gases.
pierre pierre
Dec 20, 2013 11:00 PM CST
al gore says global warming. no new ice age.