Walking into a Global Warming Refuge: The sad story of Kiribati Islands

We live in strange times, times in which powerful nations bask on natural resources and the rest of the world consumes their carbon emissions; times in which the muscular keep growing their ecological footprint, but question the progress of growing economies; times in which the “mighty” can’t be argued with, for they’ll veto you, drone you, invade you and finally capture you.

Living at the behest of such developed nations is The Republic of Kiribati – a group of small islands, situated in Oceania, Pacific Ocean with a population of 1,12,850 people and an area of 811 sq. km. Thanks to the growth of human civilization, the country now holds the tag of the “most vulnerable place on earth”, facing threats of extinction.

The inhabitants of this beautiful country, unlike the rest of us, didn’t get much time to prepare for the approaching apocalypse.They were the first to feel the direct consequences of Global Warming.

The village of Tebunginako, one of the populated places in Kiribati was hit by rising seawater; its natural resources were destroyed and fresh water contaminated. The villagers were made to migrate to nearby atolls, mostly to the capital city of Tarawa.

The President of Kiribati, Mr. Anote Tong has been trying to generate global concern on the present situation of his country, “I have tried to tell the world of the problem we are facing in Kiribati, about the climate change. There is no question, the world has heard it, but the question is what will they do about it?”

As a measure of safety, the island nation is in talks with Fiji’s military government to buy 5,000 acres of freehold land on which its people can be housed.

“This is our last resort, there’s no way out this one. Our people will have to move as the tides have reached our homes and villages”, Mr. Tong said.

The relocation plan would be to first send a small group of skilled workers who will be able to merge into the Fijian culture easily, and make a positive contribution to the country’s economy. The rest of the population will then follow.

To ease down the immigration burden on the host country, the Kiribati Government launched the ‘Education for Migration’ programme aimed at upskilling the population and making more attractive migrants.

“Our people need to find employment, not as refugees but as immigrant people with skills to offer, people who have a place in the community, people who will not be seen as second class citizens”, Mr. Tong told the state run Fiji One television channel.

Considering the present situation, Kiribati is going to be one of the sacrificed and forgotten countries of the 21st century. And so would be other low lying islands.

Today, the long running conspiracy against mother earth – unchecked development, has come to reap its results, ironically, guttling the human race itself.

There have been prophecies of the world coming to an end in 2012. Scientists have dismissed it. But with all the impending environmental disasters, especially those of global warming, if 2012 is not “The End”, it certainly is the beginning of it.

Arjun Tuli