Vanishing Paradise Kiribati – A Case of Ecomigration
Dr Abe V Rotor http://avrotor2.blogspot.com.au/ 31 July 15
Kiribati main island is formerly Atoll Christmas, named by Captain Cook when he arrived on Christmas Eve in 1777. The island, like most islands in the region, faces irreversible submergence and sea water intrusion as a result of rising sea level brought about by global warming. The island was used as nuclear testing ground by the United States in the fifties and sixties.
Aerial view of the Kiribati group of islands. Rising sea level is forcing inhabitants to leave permanently their home islands, a classical example of modern day exodus – ecomigration. Displaced inhabitants are being settled mainly in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
Kiribati (pronounced /ˈkɪrɨbæs/ ( listen) KIRR-i-bas; Gilbertese: [ˈkiɾibas]), composed of 32 atolls and one raised coral island, dispersed over 3.5 million square kilometres, (1,351,000 square miles) straddling the equator, and bordering the International Date Line at its easternmost point. Kiribati is the only country in the world located on both hemispheres and lying on both sides of the 180th meridian.
The groups of islands are:
* Banaba: an isolated island between Nauru and the Gilbert Islands
* Gilbert Islands: 16 atolls located some 930 miles (1,500 km) north of Fiji
* Phoenix Islands: 8 atolls and coral islands located some 1,100 miles (1,800 km) southeast of the Gilberts
* Line Islands: 8 atolls and one reef, located about 2,050 miles (3,300 km) east of the Gilberts.
Caroline Atoll channel between west side of Long Island and Nake Island.
Used for nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960s, the island is now valued for its marine and wildlife resources. It is particularly important as a seabird nesting site—with an estimated 6 million birds using or breeding on the island, including several million Sooty Terns.
According to the South Pacific Regional Environment Program, two small uninhabited Kiribati islets, Tebua Tarawa and Abanuea, disappeared underwater in 1999. The islet of Tepuka Savilivili no longer has any coconut trees due to salination.
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that sea levels will rise by about half a metre (20 in) by 2100 due to global warming and a further rise would be inevitable. It is thus likely that within a century the nation’s arable land will become subject to increased soil salination and will be largely submerged.
Rising level level is also being felt in many countries, particularly island-countries like the Philippines.