Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Rising seas washing away Pacific leader's home island
by Staff Writers
Majuro (AFP) Marshall Islands (AFP) June 26, 2013

As the US urges world leaders to ramp up action on climate change, the leader of one small island chain in the North Pacific Ocean has already got the message -- watching helplessly as rising seas slowly erode his birthplace.

The idyllic beaches on the island of Buoj where Marshall Islands President Christopher Loeak fished as a boy are already submerged, and the ever-encroaching ocean now threatens to wash away roads, schools and airstrips.

"The end of the island gets shorter every year. Some places we used to stand on the beach to fish are now in the water," Loeak, 60, told AFP.

Buoj is one of 52 islands in Ailinglaplap, an atoll that a Marshall Islands survey found was one of its most vulnerable to climate change.

"I have great attraction to Ailinglaplap," Loeak said in the capital, Majuro. "I can live on other islands, but I was born and raised there. I always think about going back there to live."

The Marshalls, an island nation of some 70,000 people about halfway between Australia and Hawaii, will have a rare moment in the international spotlight in September, when it hosts the annual Pacific Islands Forum.

Loeak said he wanted to use the opportunity to send a strong message to the world, particularly larger polluting nations, about the need for action to slow down climate change.

"We will not stop telling people that climate change is a real issue for humanity," he said. "We will be the first to feel it, but it will come to them and they should realise it."

The warning was echoed by Barack Obama in a landmark speech Tuesday, in which the US president dismissed climate change deniers and outlined steps aimed at making Washington a global leader in greenhouse gas reduction.

"We don't have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society," Obama said.

"Sticking your head in the sand might make you feel safer, but it is not going to protect you from the coming storm."

The impact of global warming is starkly evident in Ailinglaplap, with the Marshall Islands' senior climate change advisor Steve Why saying the majority of the atoll's shorelines were eroding.

"Infrastructure at risk of eroding includes three airstrips, roads, causeways and schools," he said.

Why and his survey team documented coastal erosion as an increasingly serious problem affecting many of the atoll's islands and noted the threat of rising sea levels to the entire country.

"Strong northeast trade winds since October 2012 have elevated sea levels three-to-six inches (7.6-15.2 centimetres), noticeably accelerating erosion on Ailinglaplap," he said.

About 1,700 people are scattered on the atoll's islands, which are barely a metre (three-feet) above sea level, even at their highest points.

A causeway linking some of the islands is disappearing, while salt water makes previously productive agricultural land useless.

Why said discussions with the community showed people wanted the infrastructure problems fixed, but they were reluctant to confront the worst-case scenario.

"Most conversations stalled as we envisaged what the future held -- over a three foot rise in average sea level during this century, and more beyond that," he said.

"(It's) not difficult to imagine what will happen over the coming decades while standing, talking, sleeping and raising one's family on land that is just a couple of feet in elevation above the high tide mark -- a line that is now always slowly moving inland -- when there isn't anywhere else that's easy to retreat to."

Loeak said the fate of the low-lying nation raised questions about the basic human rights of those affected by global warming, warning that if the islands were ultimately engulfed by the ocean, "we become refugees".

Loeak said that while he was happy to see world leaders such as Obama talking about climate change, it had not changed the fact that sea levels were continuing to rise in the Pacific.

And he said in the face of rising waters, his own fate was tied to that of the island.

"I will remain here until I die," he said. "If the water comes, it comes."


Related Links
Water News - Science, Technology and Politics

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Giant pockmarks found on Pacific seafloor
Wellington, New Zealand (UPI) Apr 2, 2013
Scientists say they have found what may be the world's biggest so-called pockmarks on the seafloor about 300 miles east of New Zealand. Pockmarks are crater-like structures on the seafloor created by fluids and gases as they erupt into the water through ocean-bottom sediments. Researchers from New Zealand, Germany and the United States said three newly discovered pockmarks - the ... read more

Metamorphosis of Moon's Water Ice Explained

Scientists use gravity, topographic data to find unmapped moon craters

Australian team maps Moon's hidden craters

LADEE Arrives at Wallops for Moon Mission

Mars had oxygen-rich atmosphere 4,000 million years ago

Billion-Pixel View of Mars Comes From Curiosity Rover

Study: Mars may have had ancient oxygen-rich atmosphere

Opportunity Recovers From Another Flash-Related Reset

NASA Bill Would 'End Reliance on Russia,' Nix Asteroid Capture Project

Britain shut down UFO desk after finding no threat: files

New Zealand emerges as guinea pig for global tech firms

NASA announces eight new astronauts, half are women

China's Shenzhou-10 spacecraft returns to Earth

Xi vows bigger stride in space exploration

Chinese astronauts manually dock spacecraft

China astronaut teaches lesson from space

Russian cosmonauts conduct space station tasks in spacewalk

Accelerating ISS Science With Upgraded Payload Operations Integration Center

Strange Flames on the ISS

Europe's space truck docks with ISS

New Mexico Space Grant Consortium student experiments blast into space from Spaceport America

Arianespace Soyuz Puts Four O3b Networks' Birds Into Orbit

Four O3b Network birds integrated to Arianespace Soyuz launcher

Arianespace will retain its market leadership by building on the company's flexibility and agility

Retirement for planet-hunting space probe

Trio of 'super Earths' in a star's habitable zone

Study finds planets in habitable zone around a distant star

NASA's Hubble Uncovers Evidence of Farthest Planet Forming From its Star

Laser can identify substances, could be military tool

Disney Research creates techniques for high quality, high resolution stereo panoramas

Cheap, color, holographic video

Crowd-funded videogame console selling fast

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement