Extracted from the paper
AND GLOBAL WARMING
I came to live in the
UK nearly 30
years ago. People often ask me where I
came from, and I am always proud to say – Kiribati. Of course, this is usually followed by a
small lesson on geography. I am often
asked in amazement: “How can you leave your beautiful country and come and live
in this cold climate ?” (mind you, I only get this sort of question in the
winter or on rainy summer days!) That
issue never bothered me, as I knew that I could go back again to visit Kiribati
When I am older and
greyer I won’t be able to go and visit my ancestral homeland, as it will be
swallowed up by the sea. The land
of Kiribati is only two metres
above mean sea level, and it will be the fist victim of rising sea levels.
The ominous signs
are already gathering. Coconut trees are
dying because the land is becoming saline.
Sea defences are being breached and each high tide constantly threatens
by family’s house and livelihood.
When the ocean
overwhelms our land:
will happen to our people ?
will they go ?
can we call ourselves I-Kiribati or Tuvaluans without our country to
identify with ?
my proud and independent people end their days in squalid refugee centres
out of reach of our beloved sea, living on handouts ?
The loss of the small,
innocent atoll nations in the Pacific and the Indian
Oceans is a direct consequence of
the pollution caused by the cash-based polluting economies of the
industrialised nations. We are being
crushed by the bulldozers of the American, Chinese, Russian, Japanese and other
rich polluting nations who are destroying our world.
government is putting this issue – the destruction of their land and people –
at the top of the agenda.
To quote: “The issue of global warming is a foreign
policy with top priority for the Government of Kiribati specifically, for all
governments to ratify and implement the Kyoto Treaty”.
Wishful thinking… I
doubt if our voice will be heard by President Bush and the oil companies. They probably don’t care as they have
mountains to live on. Global warming
isn’t affecting them yet, and we are insignificant people in a land which no
one can actually locate – even more so when they disappear.
However, in terms of
immediate practical steps, there is not a lot that the Government of Kiribati
consensus seems to be that the sea level will eventually rise by some 1.8
metres. It is not possible to make
predictions as to whether (and. more importantly, when) the fringing reefs
around the atolls in Kiribati
and elsewhere may be overwhelmed by
It is, thus,
premature to talk of evacuating Kiribati
and I don’t get the impression that this is an issue of great public debate in
the country itself. If the worst comes
to the worst, experts predict that we are talking about being able to live on Kiribati
at least for another 50 years. The government of Kiribati
has not had any discussions about the resettling of the Kiribati
people elsewhere, nor is there evidence that most people want to be
resettled. So any assurances of “help”
or elsewhere, if they exist, are secret.
In any case, what sort of life will the average Islander have in such a
place. One only has to look at the fate
of the Aborigines…
It is heartbreaking to
see the complacency of the “developed” countries, who are causing global
warming, especially when only four per cent of the world’s population cause 28
per cent of its pollution. This minority
of polluters refuse to change their policies and way of life to reduce carbon
dioxide and other emissions.
The sad irony is
was the first country to greet the new millennium, yet will not see the last
sunset of the next millennium. Two
islands have already disappeared under the sea.
Some say it has nothing to do with global warming, but caused by natural
processes. I cannot help but believe
that global warming has a hand in their disappearance.
My appeal to you all
is please try and do as much as you can to help save our countries, our
cultures, our uniqueness, and our lives.
The following poem was written by Sam Derby when he was ten
Global warming is coming
Quicker and quicker, always storming,
Soon it will hit Kiribati
But after that there’ll be nothing left for us.
Global warming comes fast but steady
But no one will be ready,
Please do something
So that the birds will sing,
Now start thinking