As Kiribati’s islands sink into the ocean, does anybody want to reconsider their stance on climate change?

Hey, American public? I know you don’t care too much about climate change, or global warming, or whatever you want to call it. The numbers on that score are pretty conclusive. What I can’t figure out is why you don’t care. Is it because you don’t like environmentalists telling you what to do or something? Or because you don’t see the harm in a couple degrees rise in temperature and a few feet rise in sea levels? Or maybe you don’t even believe that stuff is going to happen? Or, like, if it does happen it will be way off in the future and some egghead will have figured out how to stop it by then?

Well, if you believe any of those things I’d invite you to visit the beautiful Pacific island nation of Kiribati, only do it fast, please, because it’s probably going to be underwater before you know it. See, for the I-Kiribati, who live on a bunch of coral atolls situated about halfway between Indonesia and Colombia in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, destructive sea level increases aren’t A Thing What Might Happen Someday in the Distant Future. No, they’re actually happening right now, to the tune of as much as 1.2 cm a year. That might not seem like much, but when some of your islands are as little as 6 meters above sea level to begin with, 1.2 cm per year is a pretty big deal. So big, in fact, that the government of Kiribati just bought itself some new land on the island of Vanua Levu, in Fiji, that may have to become the new home for many I-Kiribati as their islands sink beneath the ocean’s surface:

The president of Kiribati, an island nation in the Pacific ocean, recently purchased eight square miles of land about 1,200 miles away on Vanua Levu, Fiji’s second-largest island. Like other Pacific Island nations, including Tuvalu and the Maldives, Kiribati is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change — especially sea level rise. In certain areas around these islands sea level is rising by 1.2 centimeters a year, about four times more than the global average. Within decades significant chunks risk submersion.

Kiribati president Anote Tong is well aware of this, saying of the purchase, “we would hope not to put everyone on [this] one piece of land, but if it became absolutely necessary, yes, we could do it.”

For now, it seems the new land, the first ever purchased by a country for the purpose of coping with the effects of climate change, will produce food for the I-Kiribati, since, gorsh Mickey, it turns out that rising ocean water can really wreak havoc with your groundwater table and your agriculture even before it reaches a height where you’re forced to leave altogether. But if when the I-Kiribati need to start evacuating their ancestral homelands, at least they’ll have someplace to go. We probably won’t be able to say that about a lot of other low-lying island nations or coastal populations in the years to come, which seems like a recipe for major refugee crises and world-wide destabilization, but what do I know?

Wait, did I really just write “in the years to come” up there? Because it’s already happening. But, you know, Americans have their priorities. I mean, that deficit is just so big, you know? And scary Arab guys are pretty scary, and those Iranians are scary too and they’re building planning to build might possibly one day consider maybe putting some effort into building a nuclear bomb! And the immigrants keep trying to get across the border, which is bad I guess? Anyway, lots of stuff to be scared about ahead of some silly old climate change or whatever.

Author: DWD

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