Friday, February 17, 2006

Goodbye to the Carterets!

In November last year an article from the Reuters News Service marked the beginning of what might be considered as a significant milestone in our transition to a warmer world. A community of around 2000 islanders from Papua New Guinea's Carteret Islands have become the first to begin a permanent evacuation as a result of rising sea levels and storm surges. They had spent the past 20 years trying to preserve their traditional way of life by building sea walls and planting mangroves to protect their homes and crops from the seas.
The islanders are to be relocated ten families at a time to the larger nearby Bougainville Island, four hours' boat ride to the southwest. "It's a pretty hard life out there on the islands. Some of the homes have been washed away," Joe Kaipu, the senior district co-ordinator of Bougainville, told Reuters. "The only action now is to resettle them," he said.
The Reuters article warns that this could be first of many such evacuations and quotes a recent UN study forecast that some 50 million people could become environmental refugees by 2010, driven from their homes by desertification, rising sea levels, flooding and storms linked to climate change.
Last month NEW SCIENTIST did an article on the discovery of the islands by British navigator Philip Carteret in 1767 to coincide with the commencement of the evacuation It’s ironic that we should be rediscovering one of our adventurer ancestors as a result of the loss of the islands (baring his name) due to climate change, an event possibly brought about in part by the trade links forged during that great age of discovery.


At 4:55 pm, Blogger Matt Burge said...

Tuvalans are also leaving their island in the Pacific due to rising sea levels; .

But I guess it's easy for the world to ignore the little atolls as they sink beneath the waves.


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