|Written by Ciril Jazbec|
|01 Dec 2011|
Kiribati, a small island nation of 33 atolls spread out in the South Pacific, takes up an area the size of Alaska, but the amount of dry land could fit within Manhattan. Inhabited by 100,830 people, Kiribati is among the world’s poorest countries. It has few natural resources other than fish and copra, dried coconut flesh.
Kiribati aroused my curiosity after I’d read an interview with Anote Tong, president of the small island nation, who warned about his country becoming uninhabitable due to rising sea levels and increasing salination. As Mr. Tong put it: “Kiribati might already have reached the point of no return. To plan for the day when you no longer have a country is indeed painful, but I think we have to do that.”
I went to Kiribati for one month to witness the problems and challenges of this small country. The story of Kiribati is a complex one, and the rising sea levels are by no means the only threat it faces. While the country may go the way of Atlantis, there are even more severe and imminent problems with freshwater supply and with salination killing plant life. A quick look at the beaches reveals a sorry sight – dead coconut trees are everywhere, their roots suffocated by saltwater.
To tell the story more accurately and gain better insight into Kiribati’s agony, I conducted interviews with President Anote Tong, climate change activist Claire Anterea and a priest from Kiribati, Father Martin (you can listen to an edit of these interviews beneath the slideshow). I’d also met with people from the village and paid a visit to the Kiribati community in Auckland. New Zealand seems to be the future for the Kiribati people, who are slowly leaving their islands and resettling there.
The main objective of the project is to invite people from all over the world to really think and to take action in their everyday lives – to put pressure on world leaders, to actively consider what’s going on. The people of Kiribati don’t want our pity. They want the world to take responsibility for their problems related to climate change. Dear reader, I want you to think about this – whose responsibility it is, and how you can contribute to a better tomorrow.
Audio Interviews from Kiribati
President Anote Tong
Climate change activist Claire Anterea