Kiribati officials expect climate change may make living on islands impossible in the future
Kiribati, an island nation located in the Pacific Ocean, has a very unusual back-up plan in the case of extreme climate change. Global warming has always been a looming, distant problem, but the people of Kiribati are experiencing it for real. Kiribati President, Anote Tong, has told the Associated Press (AP) that the government has “endorsed a plan to buy nearly 6,000 acres on Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu.” Tong claims that the land in Fiji is fertile and is smart insurance for the over 100,000-person population of Kiribati who could easily loose their culture if climate change keeps affecting the chain of islands.
Kiribati, composed of 32 atolls, or coral islands, is located on the equator, near the International Date Line. President Tong said that tidal and storm patterns have posed a threat to the livelihood of the islands as well as rising ocean levels. According to NY Daily News, scientists estimate per year, the Pacific sea level rises approximately .1 inches a year. However, with a number of Kiribati atolls rising just a few feet above sea level, a back-up plan is definitely a smart move.
President Tong has said that some Kiribati villages have already moved because, There have been increasing instances of sea water contamination the island’s underground fresh water, which remains vital for trees and crops,” said NY Daily News.
“We’re trying to secure the future of our people,” said President Tong, “The international community needs to be addressing this problem more.” The land in Fiji, which is being sold for $9.6 million by a church group, will, at the very least, be an option to relocate the people of Kiribati as a unit so that the culture can live on for future generations.
However, President Tong is waiting for full parliamentary approval to purchase the Fiji land, which is set to happen in April, before he discusses the plan, in full, with officials in Fiji.