Thursday, September 24, 2009

Rising seas create first climate refugees

It's not hypothetical any more:
When sharks started showing up in the garden, Ursula Rakova knew her home and native islands were doomed.

And so the exodus is now underway for Rakova, 43, and the other 1,700 residents of the Carteret Islands, who are in the process of abandoning their ancestral coral atoll 86 kilometres off the coast of Papua New Guinea for higher ground before the sea takes everything. But they will not go quietly, says Rakova, who is in New York City this week forlornly staking a claim for her people as the world's first climate-change refugees.

"The signs are clear: we used to have storms during the rainy season. Now we cannot predict it because they come more frequent and stronger," she said. "We built seawalls and planted mangroves but it gets worse. Last Christmas the storms destroyed homes and the food gardens were devastated. Now we know the sea will wash over our islands. It is heartbreaking but we have to leave."

From the Toronto Star, via Green Assassin Brigade.

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