A Country Under Water

“Try to understand what I’m saying: if you do not cut your emissions, then our survival is on the line… it’s a moral issue - industry as opposed to the survival of a people” – President Anote Tong of Kiribati

Most people following the crusade against climate change are familiar with the dramatic images of Kiribati – a nation composed of islands and atolls that straddle the equator deep in the Pacific Ocean.   For years we have seen coverage of their beautiful community being helplessly attacked by rising waters and angry waves that erode coastlines and devastate homes. 


Kiribati (source: http://bloom.bg/1BINTKg)

However, this may just be the beginning.  The impact of the climate crisis on Kiribati is severe; while the term “climate change” dances around the media, existing only as an abstract idea to the public we’ve learned to associate with “bad” – this island nation is in a daily struggle against the real effects our world’s changing climate is causing.  The consequences are staggering, as rising tides may soon engulf this country left exposed to the environment that  our global society has threatened. 

The president of Kiribati, Anote Tong, has toured the world and beseeched change.  It is not the fault of the Kiribati people that they are watching their homes, country, and way of life disappear under an imminent rising sea.  This is the consequence of wayward lifestyles that dominate society.

As this nation battles for existence, we see the strength of Kiribati in its people.  Despite the daily challenges, the people of Kiribati (I-Kiribati) emit positivity and resistance.  President Anote Tong implores leaders to change their practices, but he also searches for answers to some of the issues plaguing his country.  There is no doubt that the home the I-Kiribati is being flushed away; it’s not a future problem, it’s happening now. The country is exploring its options for survival: forced migration, floating islands, or land elevation.  All these options require tremendous resources and, even if executed, will still strip hundreds of thousands of people from their homes. 

Listen to President Anote Tong share his story and explain what I-Kiribati are doing to improve sustainability on their part.  This talk was filmed earlier this fall on TED.


Happy Earth