Though the idea of global warming is different in everyone’s mind, the truth is that it’ll have a significant impact if something isn’t done soon. For parts of the world, those changes will be small. However, in other regions, life as people know it will disappear forever when islands fail to remain above water.
Islands Beware: The Imminent Problem
While the threat of global warming and climate change may seem far-removed to people in most parts of the world, residents of smaller, low-lying islands in the Pacific understand the reality all too well. Phenomena like melting ice, rising sea levels, and disappearing glaciers are all indicators that global warming may lead to permanent and irreversible destruction sooner rather than later.
According to an article written by Pooja Bhatia on USAToday.com, “In some regions, the freshwater has turned salty, farmlands are barren and officials say rising waters will submerge entire nations by century’s end unless concerted action is taken.”
The problem for many of the small islands that are affected is that they don’t have much of a voice. They’re working hard to enlist help from larger countries and global legal experts – even threatening to sue certain coal plants for their parts in speeding up the process.
Taking the Brunt of the Force
If you’re looking at it on a priority basis, the following islands are the most important. They’ll be the first affected by global climate change, and – if nothing is done – the results could be devastating.
- With a landmass of 3.5 million square kilometers in the Pacific Ocean (and a population of more than 100,000 people), the island state of Kiribati isn’t insignificant. It’s made up of 32 islands (30 of which are fewer than five meters above sea level at any given time). While most of the islands are scarcely populated, the capital city island contains about 50,000 people. According to this article from Housing.com, “Unable to resist the mighty forces of nature, the government of Kiribati, headed by Anote Tong, are preparing themselves as well as the entire country for the worst case of losing their homeland.”
- With only 11,000 citizens, Tuvalu (composed of three reef islands and six atolls) is one of the smallest sovereign nations on the planet. The most heavily populated parts are a mere six feet above sea level, with highly elevated areas resting 15 feet above the water. Further endangering the future of the islands is the fact that inshore fresh water resources are becoming scarcer.
- The lowest-lying country in the world, the Maldives, is arguably the most threatened. The highest point on the island is a mere three feet above sea level, and, in recent years, catastrophic earthquakes have wreaked havoc on the nearly 300,000 residents.
Reversing the Fate Requires Education
If something isn’t done soon, these three islands (and many more) will cease to exist. Reversing the fate of these countries requires large-scale global education on the dire energy crisis and the need for better access to renewable sources. With diligence and responsibility, it’s possible that the future of these islands could be saved.