The Human Face of Climate Change


(Huene Island, pictured above, part of the Carteret Island chain, has literally been cut in two by rising sea levels)
Papua New Guinea’s Mission to the United Nations recently announced that it would evacuate the Carteret Islands, a horseshoe-shaped group of islands in the South Pacific. 2,000 Carteret Islanders slanders will receive funding to resettle on Bougainville Island, which is a four-hour boat ride away.
The Carteret Islanders are not the world’s first climate refugees, but since they have all been displaced together, they may become some of the best known. Meanwhile, people like Jim Inhofe insist that we sit on our hands.
Below is the press release from the Papua New Guinea Mission to the United Nations (I’d link to it, but as you can see, the PNG Mission web site isn’t quite up and running).

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Oct. 17) – The Carteret Islands are almost invisible on a map of the South Pacific, but the horseshoe scattering of atolls in eastern-most Papua New Guinea is on the front line of climate change, as rising sea levels and storm surges eat away at their existence. For 20 years, the 2,000 islanders living there have fought a losing battle against the ocean, building sea walls and trying to plant mangroves. Each year, the waves surge in higher, destroying vegetable gardens, washing away homes and contaminating fresh water supplies. Recently, Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare appropriated PGK4.1 million [US$1.4 million] to resettle PNG villagers affected by global warming. The funding was part of a PGK1.6 billion [US$569 million] supplementary budget handed down by Treasury and Finance Minister Patrick Pruaitch. Out of the PGK4.1 million funding, PGK2 million [US$712,000] will go to the Bougainville Autonomous Region’s Carteret Islanders. The local Bougainville government has an ongoing resettlement program which it hopes to complete by the end of the year. Rising sea levels will not only displace human populations. Coral reefs are expected to be affected by changes in ocean levels and sea surface temperatures.
— Scott Paul


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