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Rapid climate change has been influenced by human activities and has created serious existential crisis such as desertification, deforestation, biodiversity loss, food insecurity, air pollution, acid precipitation, trouble with the ozone, water abuse, toxic wastes, radioactive wastes, and changes in sea levels. Many island nations are especially vulnerable to the rise of sea level and are not prepared to deal with the impact of climate change. Millions of people have been, or soon will need to be relocated, in essence becoming environmental refugees.
There are many climate refugees who are going to need help. In 2007, 25 million people were uprooted (“Submerged Islands – It Has Already Begun,” 2009). There are at least 18 islands submerged around the world. Places that have already been affected places are the Bedford, Kabasgadi and Suparibhanga islands near India, the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, USA, Kiribati, half of Bangladesh’s Bhola Island (permanently flooded), and 7 islands in Manus, a province of Papua new Guinea. Over 40 nations are sinking or at risk from rising sea levels.
These nations are Tuvalu, Ghoramara, Sagar, Kutubdia, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Tonga, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Carteret Islands, Shishmaref, Kivalani, Dubai, Cook Islands, Tokelau, Federated States of Micronesia, Manus, Takuu, over 2000 other islands in Indonesia, other some 50 other islands in the India-Bangladesh Sundarbans.
The rising of sea levels make life impossible and the future uncertain. Sea levels has risen between 15 and 20 centimeters (6-9 inches) in the 20th century. This is causing serious coastal erosion and inundation. The world’s small islands have more to lose from climate change than anywhere else on Earth.
The impact of climate change is anticipated to displace up to 250 million people worldwide by 2050, including many in low-lying Pacific islands such as Tuvalu, the Solomon Islands and Kiribati. Rising sea levels are already going further inland at low-lying islands and jeopardizing shoreline economic activity. Some Islands such as the Marshall Islands, Fiji, Tuvalu, Kiribati and Vanuatu, may see significant strips of their territory disappear by the end of the century.
A conceivable 1-meter (3-foot) rise would be enough to cover the Maldives and other low-lying island countries. In the Takuu islands the giant taros are not growing so healthy because the salty water from the ocean is affecting it development. Most vulnerable coastal communities in the Pacific Islands prefer not to relocate, They wish to stay in their homes and to only migrate as a final resort. Instead, communities and national governments are prioritizing local protection adaptation measures such as building seal walls, improving drainage, and planting mangroves. In most places older people want to stay at their homes until they die because they love their home and they blame the outside world for their endangerment. Younger people may or may not feel differently about wanting to stay and move where governments relocate them. Other nations such as the Maldives, Kiribati and Tuvalu, are considering international migration in order to adapt and survive.
Most people in the Pacific don’t understand what climate change is and how it can affect their way of life. These people depend on resources from the land and ocean to survive but with climate change everything their future remains uncertain. In the Fiji Islands, a man noticed that the water levels have become low, making it difficult to take a fresh bath. But the Fiji Islands are less less vulnerable to climate change and are prepared to to take adaptive measures for their security. In Kiribati people have learned to make use of every scarce resources such as using the coconut trees as a drink.
Coastal fishing is going to be extremely vulnerable. Some seafood is at risk to disappear as changes in the water temperature can kill off some of the fish. In some some places the rise of global seas are threatening the way of life for small island nations. Many traditions are tied to the environment and the resources available locally. If these things are taken away you risk the loss of a culture. Land is crucial to indigenous worldviews and identities in the Pacific Islands. To be relocated and move away from their homelands will result in huge disturbance in cultural and spiritual life along with economic concerns and loss of infrastructure. The land is where ancestors are remembered and where foundation myths take place.
Many residents want to stay on their islands but island adaptation requires money and rich, developed countries, have not been very kind with this. They are urging the rest of the world to help them. Wealthy nations that have claimed that they would help haven’t been able to explain how they’ll fulfill their pledge to provide funds to the poor island nations. The residents of these islands are at no fault for what’s happening to the environment. The developed world is responsible for these catastrophic changes and the developed world needs to take the responsibility to help them and give them a chance at life. It’s a human right and they can’t be abandoned and left at the mercy of the environment. We must all help one another to thrive and survive.
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