The nation of Kiribati is a string of 30 or so tiny islands in the Pacific, each just a metre or so above the sea. Thanks to climate change and rising seas, it’s officially screwed. So Kiribati’s government has come up with a drastic and unprecedented decision: buy 5460 acres of land that is 1900km away in a whole other country.
For years now, Kiribati has looked at Fiji for its future. It finalised the purchase of a parcel of arable land on Fiji’s second-largest island for $US8.77 million earlier this year. Because encroaching seawater has ruined crops on the low-lying islands, the land will, for now, be used to grow food for Kiribati.
In the future, all of Kiribati’s 100,000 plus residents will also need somewhere to go. The islands are expected to become uninhabitable in 30 years or so, as the rising seas reclaim land and contaminate fresh groundwater. As such, Kiribati has also worked with New Zealand to allow its people to migrate there.
Kiribati won’t be alone is seeking to relocate its population. Other low-lying island nations like the Maldives, Tuvalu and the Marshall Islands are feeling the outsized impacts of climate change. “Entire populations of affected states could become stateless,” says a UN report. Yup, climate change couldn’t care less about national boundaries. [Inter Press Service via Al Jazeera]
Picture: One of the small, uninhabited islands of Kiribati. AP Photo/NASA