Sunday, March 11, 2012

Kiribati considers moving entire island nation as global warming claims first victim

From: The State Column 


Global warming may have claimed its first victim.

The island nation of Kiribati is reportedly considering abandoning the island in favor of moving its populace to Fiji.

Kiribati President Anote Tong told the Associated Press on Friday that his Cabinet this week endorsed a plan to buy nearly 6,000 acres on Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu. The president said the move would ensure the survival of his island’s culture and it would provide residents with a better chance of surviving a possible rise in sea level.

“We would hope not to put everyone on one piece of land, but if it became absolutely necessary, yes, we could do it,” said Mr. Tong. “It wouldn’t be for me, personally, but would apply more to a younger generation. For them, moving won’t be a matter of choice. It’s basically going to be a matter of survival.”

The island nation faces the threat of being swallowed by the sea. The island nation is just a few feet above sea level, leaving it exposed to rising sea levels that could occur over the course of just a few decades.

Speaking Friday, Mr. Tong noted that a number of villages across the island chain have already had to relocate in an effort to avoid finding themselves engulfed by the ocean.

Fiji, home to about 850,000 people, is nearly 1,400 miles south of Kiribati. It remains unclear whether the governing body of Fiji will approve the deal. Mr. Tong said he is currently awaiting full parliamentary approval for the land purchase, which he noted could come as early as April. Following approval, he will formally discuss the plan with Fijian officials.

Kiribati, which was known as the Gilbert Islands when it was a British colony, has been an independent nation since 1979. The island nation has come to the forefront on the debate over global warming and climate change

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