News and information service for Banaban Network Worldwide!
12:03PM BST 07 Sep 2011
Speaking at the Pacific Islands Forum in New Zealand, where the threats from climate change were high on the agenda, the country's president Anote Tong said islanders were so desperate that they were willing to consider several radical options in their bid to save their nation from the encroaching tide.
One of the most outlandish ideas under consideration involves building floating islands similar to oil platforms off the coast. The ambitious project would cost about $2bn (£1.25bn), funds that would have to be provided by the international community because Kiribati is one of the poorest countries in the world.
Mr Tong said that while the idea sounded "like something from science fiction", the situation facing the nation was dire and nothing could be ruled out. He said he had seen models of the floating islands and believed they could be the answer to Kiribati's woes.
"We have to consider every option though, because we are running out of options," he said.
Kiribati's 32 atolls and one island lie roughly halfway between Hawaii and Australia in the South Pacific.
Most of the nation stands less than 6.5 feet above sea level, which means that large swaths of land would be partly inundated if sea levels rise to the extent predicted in climate change forecasts.
UN research suggests that sea levels will rise by 20 inches by 2100, making most of the nation's arable land either salinated or submerged.
The archipelago, home to a population of 103,000, is already feeling the effects of climate change. Mr Tong said several people had lost their homes to rising seas and the need for action was urgent.
He said he would also consider building a series of seawalls, estimated to cost about $1bn, and relocating some residents to other Pacific nations, or even New Zealand.
"Every time I fly into Auckland I see these huge land masses which they call derelict islands but we would love to have them," Mr Tong said.
However, he said he was yet to receive any offers of land from his Pacific neighbours.
He had hoped to be able to send some citizens to the Christmas islands, but a problem with water supply had ruled the move out.
But Mr Tong remained defiant about the future of Kiribati, saying the country would never be abandoned to the rising seas.
"Would Kiribati disappear?" he said. "Never, never.
"It cannot be the end of us completely. We just need help to stop it."
Earlier this week Ban Ki Moon, the UN secretary general, visited Kiribati, pledging to the put the issue of climate change at the forefront of the UN agenda.
Mr Ban said his had only strengthened his view that "something is seriously wrong with out current model of economic development."
Comments are closed for this blog post