Quantcast

This Island Nation Is Rising Up as a Hero for Climate Action

Climate

Out in the central Pacific Ocean, straddling the equator and the International Date Line, lies an island group in Micronesia called Kiribati (pronounced 'Kiri-bas'). It’s not “famous” like Hawaii, Bali or Tahiti but its scenery is just as, or even more magnificent. Its flag—a bird flying over the sun as it sets on the ocean horizon—is testament to its peace, beauty and tranquility: stunning lagoons, white sandy beaches and a thriving traditional culture.

The people of the low-lying islands of Kiribati, while being the least responsible for climate change, are most exposed to the consequences of it. Every high tide now carries the potential for damage and flooding. Photo credit: Christian Aslund / Greenpeace

But unfortunately, due to climate change, this entire island nation with a population of more than 100,000 could disappear. After spending a few short days here I’ve been both inspired by the spirit of the people and concerned with the enormity of the problems they are facing.

The people of the low-lying islands of Kiribati, while being the least responsible for climate change, are most exposed to the consequences of it. Every high tide now carries the potential for damage and flooding. These people know first hand that climate change is not just an environmental crisis—it’s also a human rights disaster. The leader of the country, President Anote Tong, is facing the real possibility of watching his nation slowly drown and the real threat that his people will be made climate migrants.

Every high tide now carries with it the potential for damage and flooding. Photo credit: Christian Aslund / Greenpeace

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fifth assessment stressed that sea level rise projected this century will present 'severe flood and erosion risks' for low-lying islands, with the potential also for degradation of freshwater resources. Every high tide now carries with it the potential for damage and flooding. In some places the sea level is rising by 1.2 centimetres a year, four times faster than the global average.

Read page 1

That’s why I came to Kiribati and am standing with President Tong. Together we’re making a groundbreaking call to action—to demand an immediate moratorium on all new coal mines and coal mine expansions. In his own words:

“As leaders, we have a moral obligation to ensure that the future of our children, our grandchildren and their children is safe and secure. For their sake, I urge you to support this call for a moratorium on new coal mines and coal mine expansions.”

Stopping the expansion of coal will not fix the climate crisis by itself, but it’s a necessary and important step. As a global community we cannot, on one hand, claim to be taking action for the climate, while on the other, continue to expand the most destructive of fuels.

Together we’re making a groundbreaking call to action—to demand an immediate moratorium on all new coal mines and coal mine expansions. Photo credit: Greenpeace

It’s simple: people who are serious about tackling climate change must demand a world with fewer coal mines. These mines and the CEOs profiting from them, stand in the way of a 100 per cent renewable energy-powered world.

Already, a fossil-free transition is slowly being made. 2014 was the first year that renewable energy grew more than fossil fuels globally. In the U.S. 200 coal-fired power plants have been scheduled for retirement; Europe’s coal use has fallen almost 50 percent since its peak 30 years ago and China has been reducing coal use for the past 18 months. On top of that two major banks have just pulled out of investing in what is pegged to be one of Australia’s largest coal mines.

World leaders now have the opportunity to show concern, responsibility and courage by supporting this moratorium in the lead up to the Paris climate talks in December. The approval and construction of each new coal mine undermines the intent of the Paris talks. Every nation that signs on to the moratorium strengthens it.

A complete end to new coal will be the next step on the road to saving our planet and achieving climate justice. I ask everyone who is serious about taking on climate change to contact their Governments and ask their politicians to stand with President Tong. The island nation of Kiribati depends on it.

In coming weeks we will be reaching out to all of you to join hands across the globe and help us to make this moratorium a reality.

Take action. Demand leaders Act for Climate here.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

5 Islands Leading the Charge Toward 100% Renewable Energy

World’s Glaciers Melting at Record Rate

How to Prevent Worldwide Climate Catastrophe

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released new numbers that show vaping-related lung illnesses are continuing to grow across the country, as the number of fatalities has climbed to 33 and hospitalizations have reached 1,479 cases, according to a CDC update.

Read More Show Less
During the summer, the Arctic tundra is usually a thriving habitat for mammals such as the Arctic fox. Education Images / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Reports of extreme snowfall in the Arctic might seem encouraging, given that the region is rapidly warming due to human-driven climate change. According to a new study, however, the snow could actually pose a major threat to the normal reproductive cycles of Arctic wildlife.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A fracking well looms over a residential area of Liberty, Colorado on Aug. 19. WildEarth Guardians / Flickr

A new multiyear study found that people living or working within 2,000 feet, or nearly half a mile, of a hydraulic fracturing (fracking) drill site may be at a heightened risk of exposure to benzene and other toxic chemicals, according to research released Thursday by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE)

Read More Show Less
Pope Francis flanked by representatives of the Amazon Rainforest's ethnic groups and catholic prelates march in procession during the opening of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region at The Vatican on Oct. 07 in Vatican City, Vatican. Alessandra Benedetti / Corbis News / Getty Images

By Vincent J. Miller

The Catholic Church "hears the cry" of the Amazon and its peoples. That's the message Pope Francis hopes to send at the Synod of the Amazon, a three-week meeting at the Vatican that ends Oct. 27.

Read More Show Less

The crowd appears to attack a protestor in a video shared on Twitter by ITV journalist Mahatir Pasha. VOA News / Youtube screenshot

Some London commuters had a violent reaction Thursday morning when Extinction Rebellion protestors attempted to disrupt train service during rush hour.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Some fruit drinks may appear to be healthier, but many can have high levels of added sugars. d3sign / Moment / Getty Images

By Kristen Fischer

Though the science has shown sugary drinks are not healthy for children, fruit drinks and similar beverages accounted for more than half of all children's drink sales in 2018, according to a new report.

Read More Show Less
Donald Trump attends the opening of Red Tiger Golf Course at Trump National Doral on Jan. 12, 2015 in Doral, Florida. Johnny Louis / FilmMagic

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney made two controversial announcements about the 2020 Group of Seven (G7) summit: it will be hosted at one of President Donald Trump's golf resorts in Miami and it won't feature any discussion of the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less

Farms with just one or a handful of different crops encourage fewer species of pollinating and pest-controlling insects to linger, ultimately winnowing away crop yields, according to a new study.

Up to half of the detrimental impacts of the "landscape simplification" that monocropping entails come as a result of a diminished mix of ecosystem service-providing insects, a team of scientists reported Oct. 16 in the journal Science Advances.

Monocrop palm oil plantation Honduras.

SHARE Foundation / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0​

"Our study shows that biodiversity is essential to ensure the provision of ecosystem services and to maintain a high and stable agricultural production," Matteo Dainese, the study's lead author and a biologist at Eurac Research in Bolzano, Italy, said in a statement.

It stands to reason that, with declines in the sheer numbers of insects that ferry pollen from plant to plant and keep crop-eating pests under control, these services will wane as well. But until now, it hasn't been clear how monocultures affect the number and mix of these species or how crop yields might change as a result.

Aiming to solve these questions, Dainese and his colleagues pulled together data from 89 studies cutting across a variety of landscapes, from the tropics of Asia and Africa to the higher latitudes of northern Europe. They tabulated the number of pollinating and pest-controlling insects at these sites — both the absolute number of individuals and the number of species — along with an assessment of the ecosystem services the insects provided.

In almost all of the studies they looked at, the team found that a more diverse pool of these species translated into more pollination and greater pest control. They also showed that simplified landscapes supported fewer species of service-providing insects, which ultimately led to lower crop yields.

The researchers also looked at a third measure of the makeup of insect populations — what they called "evenness." In natural ecosystems, a handful of dominant species with many more individuals typically live alongside a higher number of rarer species. The team found as landscapes became less diverse, dominant species numbers dwindled and rare species gained ground. This resulting, more equitable mix led to less pollination (though it didn't end up affecting pest control).

"Our study provides strong empirical support for the potential benefits of new pathways to sustainable agriculture that aim to reconcile the protection of biodiversity and the production of food for increasing human populations," Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, one of the study's authors and an animal ecologist at the University of Würzburg in Germany, said in the statement.

The scientists figure that the richness of pollinator species explains around a third of the harmful impacts of less diverse landscapes, while the richness of pest-controlling species accounts for about half of the same measure. In their view, the results of their research point to the need to protect biodiversity on and around crops in an uncertain future.

"Under future conditions with ongoing global change and more frequent extreme climate events, the value of farmland biodiversity ensuring resilience against environmental disturbances will become even more important," Steffan-Dewenter said.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.