Australia urged to evacuate sinking Pacific islands  

Posted by Big Gav in ,

The Canberra Times has a report on the endangered nation of Kiribati - Australia urged to evacuate sinking Pacific islands.

An immigrant from a tiny Pacific Ocean nation is appealing to the Australian Government to assist in evacuations because she says her homeland is sinking under rising sea levels.

Currently bedridden with pneumonia, Kiribati Australia Association member Wanita Limpus told the Climate Emergency Week rally yesterday outside Queensland's Parliament House how climate change was destroying her home nation.

Her statement came as an Australian scientist who led the United Nations' investigation of climate joined 15 of his colleagues in urging Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to cut carbon emissions by 25 per cent.

Roger Jones co-wrote the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change's fourth assessment and he has signed a letter to Mr Rudd, Climate Change Minister Penny Wong and Environment Minister Peter Garrett.

The scientists say if the Government does not legislate to cut emissions by 25 per cent of 1990 levels by 2020 then it ''will leave Australians with a legacy of economic, environmental, social and health costs that will dwarf the scale of national investment required to address this fundamental problem''.

The letter appears designed to pressure Senator Wong as she prepares to receive climate change adviser Ross Garnaut's final report on the issue tomorrow.

In her statement Mrs Limpus said that, since she left Kiribati in 1976 to marry her Australian husband, she had returned to see clear signs of rising sea levels.

''In 1991, I was having breakfast in my sister's home one morning when there happened to be a king tide and waves crashed over a retaining wall and swept into the house and we found ourselves up to our ankles in sea water in the kitchen,'' she said.

''I was shocked at this, but my sisters were laughing ... they were used to it.

''In 2004, when I returned I had to move my grandfather's grave from its resting place, and bury him more inland.''

Mrs Limpus called on the Australian Government to help Kiribati begin the evacuation process, saying the land would become uninhabitable long before it was submerged.

''Saltwater is mixing with the groundwater and contaminating wells. Soon vital food providing plants and trees are going to die. Our people are inevitably going to have to abandon their land. They will be scattered, families will be split.

''[We need] to prepare the evacuation in a way which is the least traumatic for both them and the countries that will receive them.'' ''Kiribati [pronounced Kiribas] is a small nation of just over 100,000 people scattered across 33 coral atolls in the central Pacific Ocean,'' she said.

''The coral atolls of which Kiribati consists, are flat, just a few hundred metres wide and no more than a metre above sea level.''

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