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.
This is the second community which will be moving:
On December 6, 2005, The United Nations Environment Program announced that a small community living in the Pacific island chain of Vanuatu had to relocate due to sea level rise. In addition, in 2005, the people of the Carteret atoll in Papua New Guinea announced their imminent evacuation and the government of Tuvalu has asked New Zealand to be ready to evacuate islanders.