We hear a lot about the crises’ facing the world as a result of global warming and climate change. Often, it seems far off, and unreal; as if it isn’t really happening to us. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that we’ve screwed up our planet so badly that – whether it is manmade or not – the warming that is taking place is escalating faster than we can fix it.
So let’s share a small story with you. It is a story that is, in itself, infuriatingly frightening.
Throughout history we’ve seen countries evacuate their people due to war, famine, tsunamis, etc. The evacuations are sudden, and spur of the moment.
Things are not quite so lucky for the people of the Pacific island state of Kiribati. Granted self-rule back in 1971 from the UK, according to the CIA World Factbook, they have a population of 107,817 (as of July of this year).
The frightening thing about these people is that they are planning a mass-evac of their country. Rising seas are threatening the small country, where two villages have already needed to be evacuated. Environment Minister Tetabo Nakara told Reuters on Wednesday that “The breakup of our nation is a possibility.”
The country is looking after its people though. A government program has been enacted that will give every adult in the archipelago a marketable trade, that will help them out in new lives in a neighboring country.
The people of Kiribati are slowly but surely, being pushed out of their homes. They are giving up their country.
For so long we have looked at climate change as affecting our descendants. “It is time to put people back at the heart of climate change diplomacy,” Maldives President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom told the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) on Tuesday.
And Kiribati are not the only ones at risk here, though more immediately so. Countries like the Maldives, St Vincent and the Grenadines lie only seven feet above sea level.
The burden of climate change effects lay heavily upon the backs of small island states such as Kiribati and the Maldives, but it is at the feet of the industrialized nations that climate change rests. How would we feel, if we were faced with a problem like this?
“We don’t want to give up on our culture and civilization,” Nakara told Reuters. “But we don’t want our people to end up as second-class citizens in another country either.”
Reuters via ENN – Island Nations Plan for Rising Seas, Mass Migration