Saturday, September 7, 2013

Most island states have yet to come to grips with the possibilities of relocation

Lisa Friedman in E&E News: Tony de Brum narrates the watery landscape of his homeland as he passes through it in a motorboat: over here, an island swallowed more than a decade ago by rising seas. There, an atoll where some Bikini Islanders were relocated in the wake of U.S. nuclear testing. Everywhere, shorelines that have receded or disappeared.

"Every island, even as small as this one, has a name and someone has land rights on it," de Brum said, pointing toward a sliver of white sand and coconut palms. "Even the loss of a single tiny island like that is significant."

A series on the plight of the world's islands and island nations. They contributed very little to the changing climate from man-made greenhouse gas emissions, but some may pay with their lives.

As minister in assistance to the president of the Marshall Islands, de Brum feels strongly that relocation is not an option for his citizens and called the very idea "repugnant." President Christopher Loeak, addressing Pacific leaders here this week, did not mince words, either, when he challenged nature to "let the waters come" but said his people would not move.

Yet, about 2,200 miles away in Kiribati -- a close neighbor in these Pacific parts -- President Anote Tong said his low-lying island is grappling with reality when it drafts relocation plans and considers a $2 billion Japanese engineering plan to build a "floating island" for citizens...

The flag of the Marshall Islands

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