TURNING THE TIDE: ATOLL NATIONS DURING THE ERA OF CLIMATE CHANGE EMERGENCY

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Situated between Hawaii and Australia, the Republic of Kiribati rises out of the Pacific Ocean, an idyllic, “postcard” version of island life: cerulean waters meet white sand, and pristine beaches await the presence of tourists and locals alike. It is touted as one of Australia’s foremost vacation destinations, offering an abundance of fly fishing, kitesurfing, and scuba diving. It is also home to over 100,000, known as the I-Kiribati; most live on South Tarawa Atoll, which is one of the thirty-three pieces of land that create the Republic. And soon, it will be buried by the ocean. Its inundation is projected to occur as early as 2050. The culprit will be the rising sea level produced by climate change occurring due to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. To put Kiribati’s demise into perspective, its people have resided on the atolls for over 3,000 years. Only in the last thirty years has the Republic seen its territory continually submerged by high tides and tropical storms.