As New York City prepares for a global climate gathering on September 20th, it is our timely moment to recall on September 30. 2013 Hawaii became the first sub-national government to sign on to the Majuro Declaration. The Majuro statement flowed from island nations now threatened by climate change and a rising ocean. Hawaii is our lone state surrounded by a determined Pacific. Residents of Miami, New Orleans and other coastal cities may have an escape from the rising ocean.
Christopher Loek, president of the Marshall Islands, President Nasheed of the Maldives and other island nation leaders will be following the events in New York closely Island nations are building higher sea walls in vain as the ocean continues to rise. President Loek sent a message of urgency to UN General Secretary Ban Ki – Moon prior to the climate meeting. Marshall Island residents are not willing to move to other countries, laying aside their birthplace, culture, history. What is their future?
President Loek’s UN appeal is available on line to anyone who feels a modicum of sympathy for imprisoned people witnessing the ocean slowly climbing up and over their protective walls.
Kiribati is the lowest sea level nation in the world. There are over 100,000 people living on thirty three islands surrounded by the Pacific. BBC reporters (Feb. 19, 2001) told how this archipelago may eventually be swallowed by a rising Pacific. Kiribati President Anote Tong encouraged residents of the threatened island to leave. In lieu of doubtful mass migration to other regions, Tong has proposed a multi-billion dollar floating island, something never envisioned by island dwellers in history.
Benjamin Strauss of Climate Central reports a rising ocean threatens nearly five million US citizens living in communities along coastal areas. They might be faced with storm surges that are four feet higher than normal tide levels. Hurricanes Irene (2011) and Sandy (2012) are recent reminders to those living along the Atlantic coast.
We need not live in Hawaii totally surrounded by a rising ocean to identify with island nations that introduced us to the Majuro Declaration.
The UN gathering might indicate a willingness of all nations to decide on carbon neutrality. Maldive President Nasheed asks world leaders why they are dragging their feet on “the most important decision in history.”
Will other states follow Hawaii? Will elected officials of Florida and Louisiana be paying attention to the UN conference? Will the media devote equal time to abuse of Mother Earth as to abhorrent violence against women?