Scientists have warned for years about the dangers of global warming, raising the grim specter of rising sea levels and cities being swallowed by the ocean. It all seemed more like a Hollywood movie plot than reality. But for residents of the Pacific island nation of Kiribati, global warming is a terrifying real problem: Their entire country is about to be submerged under water.
At this point, the only workable solution seems to be to abandon the island entirely. That is why the president of Kiribati, Anote Tong, is in desperate negotiations with the country of Fiji to find his nation a new, higher elevation home.
The ambitious plan, according to Tong, calls for a slow integration of his people into Fiji to reduce the impact on the Fijian people. An initial wave would send only skilled workers to Fiji. Subsequent waves of immigration would bring the rest of the nation's population, estimated to be just north of 110,000.
Already, the ocean has claimed a number of Kiribati's atolls, and much of the nation's agriculture and fresh water reserves have been ruined by invading salt water. Villages have been abandoned, and it is believed that the nation will soon be uninhabitable.
Kiribati, a sovereign nation recognized by the U.N., is considered to be one of the most sensitive to climate change and rising sea levels. The average elevation of the island is about 6 feet above sea level.
[Image credit: Rafael Ávila Coya]
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