Marshallese confront existential threat with climate change
December 7, 2010 by kyle
As reported in the Honolulu Star Advertiser, Marshall Islands delegates to the UN climate change conference in Cancun are confronting unique problems as a nation state that is rapidly disappearing under rising seas. Not only have Marshallese and other Micronesians had to deal with the legacy of imperialism, wars, and nuclear testing; they are now facing extinction as an entire nation due to the greenhouse gas emissions of the industrialized countries:
CANCUN, Mexico >> Encroaching seas in the far Pacific are raising the salt level in the wells of the Marshall Islands. Waves threaten to cut one sliver of an island in two.
“It’s getting worse,” says Kaminaga Kaminaga, the tiny nation’s climate change coordinator.
The rising ocean raises questions, too: What happens if the 61,000 Marshallese must abandon their low-lying atolls? Would they still be a nation? With a U.N. seat? With control of their old fisheries and their undersea minerals? Where would they live, and how would they make a living? Who, precisely, would they and their children become?