Squealing pigs headed for the bush on the east coast of New Britain as the sturdy Filomena Taroa herded her grandchildren to higher ground last week as the sea moved inland further than anyone had ever seen. A similar situation confronted the people of the Carteret atolls north-east of Bougainville. “I don’t know what’s happening,” Filomena told a reporter. “I’ve never experienced it before.”
Scientists at the current United Nations climate change conference in Bali have regularly warned of the world’s seas rising as a consequence of global warming. More and more reports come in virtually every day of flooding from unprecedented high tides in the Pacific Ocean microstates.
It’s happening not only to low lying atolls but to island shorelines from India to Alaska. Scientists project that seas expanding from warmth and from the run-off created by melting land ice in Antarctica could displace millions of coastal inhabitants worldwide this century.
Ursula Rakova from the Carteret atoll knows her beach has been shrinking for the past two decades. “We don’t have vehicles. We don’t have an airport. We’re victims of what is happening with the industrialised nations constantly emitting greenhouse gases.”
The PNG Government has allocated $911,000 to resettle some Carteret families in Bougainville. “It’s not enough. The islands are getting smaller and basically everybody will eventually have to leave,” said Rakova.
Source: Associated Press
Photos: Carteret Islands [Starr TV and Google Earth]