Sunday, November 30, 2008

Climate refugees — the hidden cost of climate change

Green Left Weekly (Australia) has a long, comprehensive worthwhile piece on Pacific climate refugees: “If these people can spend millions and millions on sending troops to fight other countries, why can’t they spend maybe a couple of billions just to save people, like ourselves; the marginalised, poorest of the poor. Why? Because we are taking the brunt, we are the victims of these green[house] gas emissions, the pollution made by industrialised countries.”

These words were spoken by a Carteret Islander in an unfinished documentary, The First Wave, the evacuation of the Carteret Islands. For the inhabitants of Pacific and Indian Ocean island nations, such as the Carteret Islands, climate change is already a devastating reality.

Contrary to the climate denials of the likes of Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus, the president of Kiribati, Anote Tong has pointed out, “Some industrialised countries might be arguing that climate change would hurt their economic development. Sadly, I say no. Climate change is not an issue of economic growth. It is an issue of human survival.”

…The culturally diverse 7 million Pacific Islanders live in 22 nations. They only contribute 0.06% to global greenhouse gas emissions but are three times more vulnerable to climate change than countries of the global North, according to the IPCC. Most of the nations are low-lying atolls, with limited land space, small populations and little financial resources. More than 50% of Pacific Islander people live within 1.5 kilometres of the shore….

NASA astronaut image of Kilinailau (also known as Tulun or Carteret Islands), Papua New Guinea

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