By Ben Namakin, Conservation Society of Pohnpei
Micronesians, along with our other Pacific Islands neighbors, are among the lesser contributors to global warming, but we are at great risk from its negative impacts, especially rising sea levels and temperatures.
The Carteret Islands of Papua New Guinea are fighting a losing battle against the ocean. It is estimated the six islands will disappear into the water by 2015. Though some islands inMicronesia are mountainous like Palau and Pohnpei, even in these places the majority of the population lives in the coastal areas.
I am not a scientist, but I have already seen changes within the environment. During my childhood on the low lying atoll of Kiribati, we never experienced severe sea flooding. However, in recent years several storm surges have hit the islands causing heavy coastal erosion. These incidents have huge costs, both financially and emotionally, for the people of Kiribati, who have had to build new homes and dig up their deceased relatives from their graves to bury them further inland.
Since moving to Pohnpei in 2001 I have seen other changes. While studying for my high school degree I would spend my free time hanging out with my friends on a small islet name Dekehtik, located on a barrier reef a couple of miles away from the school. It was my favorite camping and snorkeling spot. In 2005, I heard that the islet had split in two. I went to see for myself, with my own eyes, and there it was, badly destroyed by sea flooding.
(Image: Along the Coastal Waters of Micronesia. Amy Vitale/The Nature Conservancy.)
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